Construction security increased as students return

24-hour patrols to increase site safety

Associate Vice-Principal (Facilities) Ann Browne says she patrols construction sites daily to ensure signs are still up.
Associate Vice-Principal (Facilities) Ann Browne says she patrols construction sites daily to ensure signs are still up.

The influx of students to campus for fall semester has prompted the University to heighten security measures at construction sites. This decision came after a man was injured at a construction site near Ellis Hall.

He gained access to the site at about 1:15 a.m. Aug. 16, and was transported by regional ambulance service to Kingston General Hospital for observation, said Campus Security Director David Patterson.

Patterson said the individual was a university student from another school, but he can’t comment on the man’s age or the nature of his injuries, and he can’t say how the man got into the construction site or whether alcohol was involved.

“I wouldn’t want to speculate; we didn’t see what occurred,” he said.

Since the incident, an increased effort has been made to fortify the security of all construction sites on campus.

“We’ve put a lot of effort in the last few weeks to make sure we’ve got everyone’s attention, to make sure the gates and fences are being properly maintained,” said Andrew Simpson, vice-principal (operations and finance).

“One of the biggest problems is people stealing signs.”

The University is employing four different construction firms to work on the renovation of Richardson Hall, University Avenue, Union Street, the Queen’s Centre and the underground parking lot behind Macintosh-Corry Hall.

“The good news is in the last week it had got to be a smaller site but it’s still a big site,” Simpson said.

All sites are patrolled 24 hours a day by a combination of Campus Security guards and guards contracted by the construction companies.

Patterson said there will be six people on patrol with two supervisors and two security practitioners doing 12-hour shifts through orientation week and up until Homecoming.

“If we see anyone in the construction site, we notify security,” he said. “We do not hesitate to respond to an escalated situation, asking someone to leave. We will respond to the situation.”

Patterson said communication between Campus Security and contracted security guards has been running smoothly.

“If we see them, we stop and talk and ask how things are going, ask for updates,” he said. “People need to understand that it’s an issue of personal safety.”

Rod Pollack, president of T.A. Andre Construction Company, is working on the Richardson Hall and University Avenue renovations.

Pollack said even with guards on site 24 hours a day, it’s impossible to keep everyone safe all the time.

“We’ve had a couple of incidents,” he said. “Some guy elected not to take the paths and jumped the fence or whatever, but you can only do so much. …One fellow did try to hop the fence and got injured.”

After a certain point, he said, it becomes the students’ personal responsibility to keep themselves out of harm’s way.

“Mostly, everybody wants to play by the rules.”

According to the Ministry of Labour safety regulations, all fences must be at least six feet high. Pollock said the majority of his fences exceed the required height.

Ann Browne, associate vice-principal (facilities), said she knows the contractors are doing their jobs because she personally makes sure they’re accountable.

“I’ve been driving them crazy because I walk around and bring someone who is 5’10” or 6’ and have them stand beside the fences,” she said.

Browne said she’s continually impressed by the crews’ diligence.

“These guys are so conscientious.”

Browne said she frequently visits the various construction sites on campus and talks to the contractors so she can be updated on any changes.

“I’m out on site every day,” she said. “For the last couple of weeks I’ve been out several times a day.”

Browne said she has been approaching students and asking them about their experiences navigating the campus through the construction.

“I talk to them and say, ‘How are you doing? Are the signs helping?’”

Students have a generally positive attitude towards what the construction will eventually accomplish, Browne said.

“They’re actually saying they think it’s really neat, that in the end, it’s going to be better for the campus,” she said. “It’s almost like it’s business as usual for them. They’re resilient to the changes. They’re not having a problem with it.”

Because directional and safety signs continue to be stolen on a regular basis, replacement signs must now be imported from the U.S.

“They ran out of them in Kingston and we had to get them shipped in from the States,” Browne said.

There are signs posted on every building indicating accessible entrances and clear routes, but Browne said stolen or moved signs are a serious safety issue with the influx of students returning to Queen’s this week.

“Our one concern now is students coming back, especially those with accessibility issues,” she said. “That’s really tough.”

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