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Is Your Construction Site a Pokémon Go PokéStop?

Except for those who have been living under a concrete foundation for the past few weeks, just about everyone has heard of the new Pokémon Go craze. Pokémon Go is a game for Android and Apple phones.

To play the game, players follow their phone’s GPS, which leads them to various places in the real world where they encounter and capture in-game creatures called Pokémon. The Pokémon website says “If you see a Pokémon someplace where it might not be safe to capture it (like in a construction site or on private property that you can’t get to from the street), don’t do it. There will always be another chance to catch that Pokémon later on!”

While most players may heed that warning, some have made headlines with their poor judgment calls and fervor for finding rare Pokémon, such as the California men who fell off a cliff while playing. The Clarksville Tenn. Leaf-Chronicle reported players were trespassing onto closed and fenced construction sites at Austin-Peay State University.

Idle wanderers are nothing new for construction sites, but typically fences and signs are enough to keep them at bay and prevent theft or injury in a dangerous space. However, with Pokémon Go (and likely many other so-called augmented reality games to come), otherwise well-behaved pedestrians have found new incentive to think about hopping that fence and ignoring those signs.

Here’s the real problem: If someone steps on a nail or falls into a ditch on a construction site, the contractor could be held liable unless he can prove that he did everything possible to keep the site reasonably safe. Here are some tips for making sure the company doesn’t end up in court over a video game.

Maintain a Security Perimeter

Take steps to secure the construction site against intruders. This means keeping good fencing with clear access points, marking the site appropriately, and monitoring the space with a reliable security camera system.

Fences aren’t impassible. No security measure is, but they serve as a first line of defense and will often ward away all but the most bold of would-be trespassers. A fence can be something as simple as plastic webbing up to a tall wire barrier; choose whatever is most appropriate for the situation and security concerns.

A highly visible fence also serves to mark the construction site, keeping unintentional trespassers away. In order to bring home the dangers involved, it’s important to notify pedestrians to “keep out” or “beware of falling objects” near the construction site. Brightly colored signs are the most effective here, but the Pokémon Go phenomenon may require special measures.

Players can become single-minded when they’re searching for and they’re likely to miss usual warning signs. Try placing signage with logos for characters from the game, warning players about the hazards of construction sites and directing them elsewhere to play. For example, reddit user MagdaProski produced creative graphics to encourage players to mind their etiquette while playing the game.

A system of security cameras can be a powerful last resort. Cameras can keep records of everything that happens on the site. Importantly, this means that if a player ignores all other warnings and proceeds anyway, then injures himself or herself, the contractor will have an irrefutable record of who is at fault.

Some security systems, such as virtual guards (offsite guards who monitor security camera feed) can issue verbal warnings to intruders. Cameras can compliment an onsite security guard, but be sure that guards have the required state licenses.

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