Ensuring your construction site is safe and secure
By John Fleming, General Manager
Monday, 12 June, 2017
Construction sites can be an easy target for criminals and opportunistic thieves. Depending on the site location and scale of the operation, each site will have its own issues and areas of concern. The site challenges constantly change as the build progresses and the value of equipment and materials on-site increases. In addition, there is the need to provide site access to all of the construction workers, including subcontractors.
Among the threats construction sites can be subjected to are theft of tools and fittings, vandalism and safety issues. Theft is the most common due to the high value associated with plant, equipment, materials and tools. Next is vandalism — how many times have you seen news reports of newly fitted out homes and offices mindlessly torn apart by vandals?
Each site operator needs to ensure that they identify the risks and apply a scaled security solution. The security framework should include what is known as the 4 Ds: deter, detect, delay and respond strategies. To achieve this, most site operators will use either an internal specialist or call in a licensed security consultant to conduct a risk assessment and prepare a security plan. Generally the security services required will be outsourced to a licensed security company to provide services. Security is applied through the application of physical and operational measures.
Deterring entry to a site, the first line of defence starts with the fence and gates at the perimeter. Badly secured construction sites can also create a potential safety risk for members of the public, particularly children who may be inquisitive. Risks can be from climbing on partially built structures, scaffolding, live electrical power and open excavations. Security measures will assist in ensuring public safety. Among the things to consider include:
- Fences require secure access points with locks.
- Brace perimeter fencing so it cannot be pushed or blown over.
- Block gaps under fences and gates so they cannot be crawled under.
Posted notices on the fence and gate may seem trivial but they convey the warning that the site has restricted access to everyone who is not authorised.
Lighting can be a deterrent to thieves and an aid for security patrol staff. Thieves tend to prefer to work in the dark. Construction sites seldom have sufficient lighting to prevent criminals from being able to operate in the dark. However, you can help deter criminals from targeting your site with lighting. Also, lights connecting to motion-sensing systems can have an impact, by startling thieves that enter your property.
Given the temporary nature of construction sites it can be problematic running cables to security devices. Battery-powered wireless security devices are available and are quicker and easier to deploy. They are also easier to move around as the site develops. Care is needed in the placement of security detectors so they are not damaged or have their field of view blocked. In the event of an intruder entering the site and triggering an alarm, this would result in an automated wireless alarm transmission to a monitoring centre provided by 3G networks to activate a response. Sirens and flashing lights can also be used on the site to scare off intruders.
Security guards offer an added layer of protection such as being on site full-time, providing on-site/off-site processing of personnel and vehicle movements and general response to incidents. Lower cost options include scheduled site patrols and responses to alarms.
CCTV can be a major benefit to site security as a deterrent to thieves and is the go-to technology after an incident or for monitoring of suspicious behaviour. Consideration at the planning stage should be given to the quality of the system required and the availability of power and effective lighting. Infrared lighting can also be effective in supporting CCTV cameras. CCTV images can be recorded on-site or in the cloud with access to remote monitoring. Portable CCTV systems are also available and can be rapidly deployed and moved around a site. They can be rented on a temporary basis to provide peace of mind. These portable wireless systems have the ability to transmit images off-site and can include remote operations to control the direction and view of a camera using pan, tilt and zoom. Some of these system have the ability to include audio features with speakers that will allow the remote operator to warn intruders to leave the site.
Good planning is essential for construction site security to minimise the theft of valuable materials and tools. Investment in a job site security plan before the project commences is essential. It is also important to facilitate security awareness for all workers on-site and immediately report all known instances of theft and vandalism. With a little common sense and forward planning you can ensure that your construction is both safe and secure.
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