No kids allowed!

Make sure you know how to secure job sites from curious children

As any parent can attest, there is virtually no limit to the mischief unsupervised children can cause. The variety of items that will arouse their curiosity and become their playthings is equally limitless—and construction sites can be especially attractive to curious children. Although the possibility a child will climb ladders, play with materials or attempt to operate heavy machinery is given little thought by many roofing contractors when securing materials and equipment at the end of the day or week, children can expose roofing contractors to extensive liability under a legal doctrine known as "attractive nuisance."

Generally speaking, an owner or occupier of land—a classification that includes contractors while work is in progress—is not required to exercise care to ensure trespassers' safety. The only obligation is to avoid willful, wanton or reckless conduct that is likely to injure trespassers, reflecting the high priority given to property rights. The attractive nuisance doctrine is an exception to this favoring of unrestrained property rights and instead gives primacy to child safety.

Nearly every state has adopted a rule requiring contractors to exercise reasonable care to protect against foreseeable dangers to child trespassers, balancing property rights against society's interest in protecting children. Failure to exercise this reasonable care may render you liable in the event of a trespassing child's personal injury or death.

Essentially, the attractive nuisance doctrine is grounded in the law of negligence as it applies to conditions that are highly dangerous to trespassing children. You are not required to make trespass by or injury to a child impossible nor must you guard against remote or improbable injuries. Instead, you only are required to do what is reasonable under the circumstances.