Construction sites are an important part of the modern world but are often targeted by thieves who find the attraction of high-value goods and the open nature of construction sites enticing. Without efficient and comprehensive construction site security measures in place, sites can face thousands of pounds worth of loss and damage which can put a hold on work for weeks or months at a time, increasing costs, reducing business growth and creating a poor experience for the service user.
Security cameras and security guards are effective at preventing crime on-site, however, security cameras that simply record are only good at providing evidence in court after the crime has already occurred. Furthermore, security guards are very expensive to hire around the clock, which can mean leaving your site vulnerable during the evenings.
Thankfully, there are more cost-effective deterrents that construction companies can use to transform their security systems from reactive to proactive – actively deterring threats and providing real-time monitoring that facilitates an immediate reaction from the emergency services.
What Threats Do Construction Sites Face?
Construction sites store a lot of expensive plant equipment, materials and tools, especially overnight once construction staff have left for the day. These high-value goods are an attraction to thieves and will often see them returning to the same site to attempt further theft or vandalism. As many as 21% of construction sites commented in a survey conducted by the Chartered Institute of Building that they had been affected by theft on a weekly basis.
It’s not just the cost of replacing tools that construction sites must deal with either. Additional costs such as delays to construction work, hiring in new machinery, repairing any damage and replacing stolen fuel can quickly cause costs to add up, making it harder to resume work within a short timeframe. In total, between recorded and the approximate number of unreported incidents on construction sites, thefts and vandalism are thought to cost the construction industry upwards of £800 million a year.
There is also the threat to human life and wellbeing when construction staff are threatened or harmed during burglaries or as a result of vandalism to the site. This can also extend to less traditionally malicious threats that wish to gain access to the site in a bid to interrupt work, such as protestors or demonstrators.
Outside of manmade risks and unauthorised access to the site, construction sites are also at risk of natural threats including flooding, storm damage and fire.
Performing a Risk Assessment
To properly implement security on a construction site, everyone needs to be made aware of the risks that the site will face. Before work begins, and to determine the level of security and which security measures are best to implement, a risk assessment or risk analysis should be carried out. A detailed risk assessment lists the threats the construction site needs to address, how severe the risk is and the best way of implementing a security measure to deter or offset the hazard.
To determine the threat level of a particular risk and how much it should be accounted for, organisations should;
– Identify the risk
– Identify who is at risk and how they are affected
– Prioritise the list of risks from severe to nominal
– Identify what security measures are in place for each risk, alongside what security measures need to be implemented
– Regularly review risk assessments as the work progresses through different phases
Each risk needs to be considered for the cost of impact and the cost of mitigating the risk – if the impact cost is less than that of implementing security measures, safety officers can choose to ignore or treat the risk as a non-issue, unless employee health and safety is also a threat.
While every member of staff and crew do not need to be involved in the risk assessment process, they do need to be made aware of the risks and what security measures are in place to offset or prevent each hazard.
How to Keep a Construction Site Secure?
Keeping up with security on construction sites is difficult because of their hectic nature; with many people, vehicles and equipment requiring access to the site throughout the day and via several different entrances. As construction sites normally make use of perimeter fences and hoardings, these entrances require monitoring to ensure opportunistic individuals don’t enter the site without proper authorisation. This can be tricky when every person has a responsibility on-site and are likely to be engaged in their personal task-list. Dedicated site security can be hired, though it will be another costly expense that increases the total price of the project.
To best reduce the risk of criminal activity on-site, construction sites need to turn themselves into less vulnerable targets for potential thieves and vandals. To achieve this, a comprehensive security solution includes aspects of security that;
– Deter individuals
– Detect activity
– Delay actions
– Provide an immediate response
To best deter an opportunistic thief, visible security measures should be implemented on-site. This includes an impenetrable and unclimbable perimeter fence or security hoardings, securely locked access gates that cannot be lifted or used to climb into the site, noticeable CCTV cameras and potentially an on-site security guard or security dogs. The harder the site looks to gain access to, the less likely thieves or vandals will attempt to gain entry.
Further measures include;
– Restricting the number of vehicles on-site. All vehicles requesting entry or exit of the site should receive proper authorisation and be logged, with restricted access for any unscheduled deliveries or unmarked vehicles.
– Preventing access to vehicles by ensuring staff must enter on foot. This can help reduce the number of active entry/exit points on-site and, when implemented alongside full-height turnstiles and access control, prevent access to anyone except authorised individuals.
– Full coverage lighting which comes on automatically when natural light levels fall. While lights ensure crews can work safely and see what they are doing, they are also a good deterrent to thieves wishing to gain entry. Lights, bulbs and wiring should also be protected to prevent vandalism.
– Install barriers such as high kerbs, bollards or trenches. These types of barriers deter ram-raiding or vehicles trying to force their way on-site and can be installed along fences to prevent wrongdoers from smashing through your site’s perimeter.
– Make use of secure construction site storage. High-value materials such as copper wiring, tubing and other expensive metals should be securely stored in dedicated security lockups on-site. With pricey materials out of sight, thieves are less likely to take the risk and try a break-in.
Security measures for detection serve two purposes – to detect an active threat which will lead to theft, damage or harm, and to provide evidence after the crime has occurred for judicial means. Detection methods can be split into two categories – operational, that require active human engagement and physical, meaning technical and material infrastructure.
Operational detection provides an increased level of deterrence for threats and normally includes patrolling security guards or on-site security teams, however, this can be costly and introduces a risk of threat to human life and wellbeing. Alternatively, physical detection such as CCTV cameras, security lights and access control systems remove the threat to human life and can be more cost-effective.
The benefit of implementing advanced physical security measures include;
– Access to remote monitoring services. The virtual security guard of construction sites, remote monitoring adds another level of security to installed CCTV camera systems. Suspicious activity or movement after hours automatically alerts operators in a security centre who identify the activity, give an audio warning and then contact the relevant emergency services to deal with the issues, as well as the head of site security or operations.
– Support for access control services. Provide access for authorised entrants only after they have been identified and recorded. Access control can also be extended to internal site areas using laser-light detection systems which send an alert when lasers are interrupted by persons and/or vehicles.
– Facilities for intruder and fire detection. Allow for immediate reaction to detections of unauthorised entry and fire or smoke. Security operators receive a notification, pull up access to live CCTV footage and take the appropriate action, whether that be contacting emergency services or issuing audio warnings to warn intruders they are being monitored.
– Access to intelligent video analytics. Gain greater control over construction site security through intelligent video analytics with detailed footfall heat maps, active traffic monitoring, facial and number plate recognition and identification of left or abandoned objects on-site.
Delaying Further Action
On detection of unauthorised activity on-site, security operators working from the observation centre can issue an audio warning, deterring intruders from venturing further on-site. Should intruders choose to ignore this warning, with implemented access control, operators can automatically lock and secure additional entry points and prevent a quick exit by securing gates or disabling turnstiles, all whilst waiting for the contacted emergency services to arrive.
Normally, an audio warning is enough to encourage intruders to leave the area; however, with live CCTV imaging, intruders that ignore the warning are tracked and emergency services respond much more rapidly to active monitoring reports.
A great advantage of utilising remote monitoring services for construction site security is operators can report on live situations as they happen, encouraging an immediate response from emergency services. Additionally, quality security systems making use of advanced CCTV cameras with high-quality images, providing irrefutable evidence when criminals are charged in court.
Bespoke Security for Construction Sites from the Experts
At Farsight, we are experts in providing professional and bespoke security services for construction sites across the UK and have been providing bespoke domestic and commercial security solutions for over 20 years. We understand the risks and threats that construction sites face and the measures required to ensure ongoing safety for goods, equipment and staff.
Whether you require remote access control, remote monitoring services, lone worker protection or a tailored security solution, our friendly and knowledgeable team are available to provide advice and assistance. Our security operators, working from the Farsight Observatory, are highly trained in the detection and recognition of suspicious behaviour and will work around the clock to ensure your site and assets are protected.
Prevent losses, downtime and interruptions to construction today by getting in touch with our team to learn more about how our services can provide comprehensive security solutions for your construction site.