Regardless of whether the economy is booming or slow construction sites continue to be targets of theft. Washington DC and its suburbs in Maryland and Virginia are prime targets for construction site crime. Everything from vehicles to copper to fuel are targets of would-be criminals yearning to make their living from taking materials from others and selling them. Everything of value on a job site poses a risk to construction security. A criminal can use one key and steal multiple vehicles on a site. Serial numbers and company markings make stolen equipment harder to sell. The high cost of fuel has resulted in recent increases in cases involving thieves stealing fuel from vehicles and generators at construction sites. Copper prices have been steadily increasing for over a decade. Unlike with equipment, no serial numbers or company markers are identifying the origins of pieces of copper. As a result, thieves can quickly sell their stolen copper with little fear of apprehension. Losses from construction site theft amount to over $1 billion every year. The size of losses makes construction site security a top concern for the construction industry. Every construction site should have security guards. You can find some ideas here. However, there are other things should also be done.
10 Things you can do to protect your construction site.
1. Emphasize your concern about security during your encounters with your employees and subcontractors.
People care about whatever the boss emphasizes. If individuals in charge show little concern for security, the workers will show even less interest. Lack of care results in materials being left unsecured and attracts would-be thieves. In many cases, the thieves are people who work at the site or friends of theirs who have been given information. Even the most honest person is tempted to steal if they have little fear of being caught. Make security a subject in every project meeting.
2. Frequently review and update your construction site security plan as the job progresses
The only thing that is constant on a building site is change. It is important to review your safety plan as the job progresses. Whenever there are changes to equipment and locations of materials, the construction site security plan should be considered. Ask yourself, what effect will moving the trailer to this area of the site have on the safety and security of the project? If you are using a security company to protect your site, seek their input.
3. Keep your site well lit in evenings and overnight when work has ended.
Criminals do not want to be seen. The better you light your site, the less inviting it is for thieves. Adding lighting also makes it easier for police to see activity if they are in the area. It also helps security guards who you may have doing patrols. Increased lighting is a powerful tool in the fight for building construction site security.
4. Do not keep unnecessary amounts of supplies on hand.
It is hard enough to keep track of the materials that you have to have. The last thing that you need is to keep track of equipment and materials that are not needed. Extra materials are usually the first things to be stolen. This is because the loss tends to be noticed much later than materials that are currently being used. Delivery times and work schedules must be considered when deciding what materials to keep on hand. There will always be some extra materials around. The key is limiting the number of additional materials that are around and managing what is on hand. Supplies should be kept on as needed.
5. Have an accurate record of material and equipment on the site
You must know what you have to know what you may lose. Failure to document materials and equipment is a common mistake of project managers. Tracking materials can have a significant impact on the profitability of a project. Implement a policy that requires workers to sign-out all equipment and tools. Keeping accurate records helps identify losses soon after they happen. Always report a theft to the police immediately. If you discover equipment theft, be sure that you also report it to the national registry. Quickly identifying losses can assist the investigation into the crime. At a minimum, keeping accurate records demonstrates to the workers that everything is being counted. It reminds them that “the boss is watching.”
6. Install fencing around the site
The more obstacles a thieve has to enter a site, the more likely they are going to decide to go elsewhere. Fencing is fairly standard in the industry. However, a tour through any metropolitan area will review surprising amounts of construction sites that lack proper fencing. Fencing is a must.
7. Assign supervisors to be responsible for different security responsibilities.
Protecting the security of a construction site requires a team effort. It is nearly impossible for one person to track everything. Many project managers recognize this challenge and assign different members of their supervisor team to be responsible for various aspects of security. For example, one person could be in charge of making sure all entrances to the building, and/or gates are secure at the end of the day. Another may be responsible for copper inventory control or tracking equipment. Dividing the security responsibility re-enforces the idea that the boss is watching. It also encourages supervisors to take ownership of the safety of the construction site.
8. Perform a final check at the end of every day
Always perform a final check of the place at the end of the day. All high-risk areas should be checked, including storage containers, entrances, and the general perimeter. Something as simple a leaving a container unlocked can result in a loss. In some cases, these items could be left unsecured by workers who intend to return later when no one is watching.
9. Stage equipment, storage containers, and materials away from the perimeter
The more difficult it is for them to gain access to the items, the less likely they are to make the extra effort to steal those things. Staging equipment and materials farther from the perimeter increases the amount of time required to remove them from the site.
10. Hire private security guards.
In many cases, developers and general contractors realize that the risk of loss is too significant to take chances. As a result, they hire a security services agency to provide security guards. The mere presence of security guards can eliminate theft. Professional security guards are the most practical resource for construction site security. Criminals prefer to take the path of least resistance and steal from locations that are not protected. If you choose this option, be sure to make the security guards shift start while workers are present to allow the workers to see the guards. The workers seeing the guard helps to spread the word that the site is being protected. Hiring security guards is a significant investment. Though substantial, the cost of hiring guards pales in comparison to the cost of equipment and materials theft. Some may wonder why cameras are not listed. Guards are a better option.