Construction sites are busy hubs hosting people with various interests. They are also storage sites for high-value equipment and appliances, fuels, and materials. For this reason, construction sites are often targeted by opportunist thieves, vandals, terrorists, and other ill-intended people. Security may not be a problem for engineers but it is crucial. Research shows that construction sites lose billions of dollars due to security breaches every year. Depending on the location of a site, you will have different security concerns to deal with.
Due to the high traffic of people and contractors in a site, perpetrators of criminal activities could disguise themselves as genuine workers and compromise site security. It is, therefore, crucial to have robust access control and crowd management systems in a construction site.
This guide will help you understand some of the risks your construction site could face and suggest management measures to manage, prevent and mitigate these risks.
Theft, loss, and damage of equipment
Equipment is a significant investment in any construction site. Research by the National Equipment Register shows that construction sites in the US face close to $300million to $1billion in equipment losses every year. It is, therefore, crucial to keep all equipment safe and well maintained to prevent damage or loss. Observing equipment safety also helps you adhere to occupational safety and health regulations and facilitates efficient work.
Due to the high cost of acquisition and maintenance, many contractors opt to rent equipment. This takes away the cost of replacement and the risk of damage from the contractor. As a result, contractors are likely to be less vigilant like they would have had it been their equipment. It also presents a low-risk, high reward situation for an opportunist criminal. But, depending on the lease agreement, the contractor could still be responsible for guarding against loss of equipment.
Vandalism and trespassing
Nine in ten construction sites experience losses due to encounters with vandals and trespassers. From site survey to the actual building stage and finishing construction sites face the twin threats of vandalism and trespassing at every stage of the process. During the early stages, before breaking ground, the priority is to prevent travelers or passers-by from occupying the area. However, as the building commences, the site becomes an isolated place and inviting criminals. At this point, threats ranging from equipment theft, vandalism, terrorism, and serious injuries take center stage. The perpetrators could range from hardcore criminals to teens looking for easy trouble. Regardless of the perpetrator or nature of loss, it is crucial to safeguard a construction site from risks posed by trespassers and vandals.
Intellectual property loss
Intellectual property is a huge investment in the construction industry. Some of the protected materials include drawings, plans, written documents, pictures, or even the finished building or sections of it.
Intellectual property loss could happen on or off the construction site. It is a subtle loss that many contractors and site managers may fail to recognize, therefore they might not take measures to prevent it. Intellectual property might not be tangible. It is often in the form of patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and trademarks. But it must be felt by every site worker and used only with the owner’s permission. Otherwise, it is a crime and a loss to the owner.
What is at stake?
The above risks pose a significant threat to construction sites and could lead to further losses such as the following:
- Operational losses – Theft or vandalism of plant or equipment could cause malfunction leading to delays and further operational losses.
- Injury and threat to life – Security breaches also could create new risks. For example, fuel theft could cause spillage and fire hazards.
- Fines and sanctions – Losses due to security breaches could compromise safety standards and lead to penalties and sanctions by regulators.
- Economic losses – When any of the above risks crystallizes, it causes direct or indirect financial loss to the construction site.
Crowd management guide as a solution to construction site security
A common denominator in the risks mentioned above is unauthorized access and failure to manage people groups inside the site. Therefore, crowd management and access control are crucial avenues that you can use to strengthen construction site security.
Below are suggested guidelines in crowd management you can apply to a construction site.
First, have a plan
Failing to plan in construction is an expensive mistake. Lack of a crowd management plan could lead to compromised security of a construction site. Start by assessing your risks. Then use the site map to identify potential security weak points or areas unauthorized access may occur. At this point, it is beneficial to work with an experienced crowd control professional. They will help you to develop a comprehensive plan.
Secure the perimeter
Securing the perimeter of the construction site separates the area under control. It is the first line of defense, and it does the following:
- Prevents accidental and unauthorized intrusion
- Eliminates temptation for opportunistic criminals
- Enhances productivity
Depending on the size of the site and various other factors, choose an appropriate fence, of a suitable height. It is also helpful to place “NO TRESPASSING” signages at strategic points along the fence. This could help handle litigation and prevent excitement-seeking teens.
Control access to the site venue
Controlling access to the site is crucial. It helps to prevent unauthorized personnel and ensure troublesome people don’t enter. You can establish screening points and temporary fencing to ensure trouble makers are managed at a considerable distance from the building. Other measures you can employ include:
- Use a register to record every person who enters or leaves the site.
- Employ crowd controllers at the entrance.
- Set up signages at the entrance stipulating code of conduct and safety rules.
- Use gates designed to permit or block entry
- Control traffic into and out of the site using bright colored plastic barriers, blockers, or barricades.