In the UK, theft costs the construction site industry in excess of £800 million every year. Indeed, construction is a huge and highly valuable industry that inevitably makes use of a large number of high-value materials, equipment, tools and machinery.
Unfortunately, this makes the industry a major target for thieves and criminals simply due to the fact that it is a profitable option for them.
Here we take an in-depth look at security on construction sites; what are the risks and challenges? And what measures can be put in place to keep the site as secure as possible?
What are the security threats for construction sites?
Any time that an unauthorised person enters the construction site and carries out any kind of criminal activity, it can present a safety and security threat. These threats and challenges can actually take a fairly wide range of forms.
- Loss of materials – the most obvious threat and challenge is the lost revenue and profit margin that comes from having to replace expensive tools and pieces of machinery, as well as the construction materials that are required to do the job. Additionally, fuel can be stolen, and even aspects of the construction damaged, which can lead to a need for duplication of labour.
- Disruption of operations – it is not just the loss of materials and equipment, but also the disruption to the schedule of the construction that can be so costly. If materials are stolen from a site, it means that work cannot continue until new supplies have been ordered and delivered. Likewise, if key equipment goes missing, it will need to be replaced before work can continue.
- Making the site dangerous – of course, there is the slight danger of trespassers coming onto the site and potentially causing criminal damage and endangering life with arson. However, the danger is actually more likely to come from the fact that thieves may damage equipment which makes it more dangerous to operate on the site. For example, if heavy machinery is sabotaged or electrical wiring is exposed. Additionally, if fuel is stolen from a piece of machinery this could leave pools of the fuel around which itself can be a fire hazard.
Considerations of loss and liability
There are further complications that need to be considered: the issue of loss and liability that occurs as a result of trespassing or criminal damage on inadequately secured construction sites. Consider the issue that could arise if a vehicle stolen from your construction site is then used to ramraid another premises in order to commit further crime – the site could be liable.
Additionally, construction sites that are not adequately secured can be held liable for trespassers being injured in accidents, or due to safety issues caused by trespassers.
There can also be the challenge that if your work is held up by security and safety issues, it may not be possible to complete it on schedule. This can be another way that poor security can cause problems at your construction site.
What are the challenges for good security at a construction site?
There a number of challenges that make construction sites difficult to prepare for from a security perspective.
- Constant movement – it is undoubtedly an issue that a construction site necessitates a great deal of movement while it’s operating. This means that there must be easy ways for workers to access the whole of the site without being impeded. Unfortunately, this means that there may be easy ways for trespassers to do the same. The number of people at a site is constantly in flux with deliveries arriving and leaving. It can give criminals the opportunity to enter the site unchallenged, whether they are committing any crimes or simply getting an idea for the layout and what can be found at the site.
- Many ways to access the site – it may well be the case that there are many access points for a construction site. These include access for vehicles, site workers, authorised visitors, and sometimes parts must be made accessible to the public to allow them to get from one area to another. Access points commonly change location as work progresses, making them more challenging to manage from a security perspective.
What security features do you need to keep you site secure?
Firstly, it is important to point out that there are a number of security essentials that every construction site must have in place – often these are legal necessities. Every construction site will have differing needs and requirements. However, it is almost always the case that you will need to have:
- Comprehensive risk analysis – before any work is carried out at the site you should have a thorough security risk analysis conducted. This will provide you with the information you need on the specifics of your site and what you will need to put in place to ensure that the site is secure at all times.
- Protocols in place – your risk analysis should show the important protocols that need to be put in place to keep the site secure.
- Limits on access – it is essential that there should be a way to limit access to the site. This will ensure that only authorised people are allowed to be on site at any time. No-one should be allowed to access the site via an open entrance; this goes for both people and vehicles.
Important physical security measures
As well as the essential access control, there are a number of other measures that should be put in place to keep the site secure at all times.
- Lighting – good lighting is extremely important, and is often enough to deter criminals by itself. Thieves prefer to operate with the cover of darkness, and may think twice before attempting to gain access to a well-lit site.
- CCTV – often thought of as useful only after a crime has been committed, CCTV is actually a crucial tool for deterring the crime in the first place. Not only should CCTV be put in place, but large signs pointing its presence are vital to help to make it as effective as possible.
- Barriers and fencing – sites will need a range of fencing and barrier options to ensure not only that access is limited, but also to help keep pedestrians (including site workers) safe from vehicles. Concrete barriers and security fencing play an important role in all construction sites.
- Locks – remember that access points, vehicles, and storage should be locked at all times when they are not being used. This means it is necessary to have a wide range of locks on the site.
Physical security is essential, but there are some elements of operational security that can also be used on construction sites to minimise risk.
- Manned guarding – at important high-value sites, it can be necessary to put security guards in place. Once again, this acts as much as a deterrent as a way to halt a crime that is in progress.
- Entry and exit monitoring – you may need to have security guards physically monitoring who is entering and exiting the premises in order to keep track and make sure that no unauthorised people are gaining access to the site.