Nature keeps everything balanced. That's why every good side has its bad side. Although this is the most wonderful time of the year, it's also one where desperate people do desperate things. One of those desperate things is committing holiday crimes. They want to give their families a memorable holiday.
Maybe 2020 and the pandemic has hit them hard. Fortunately, the construction industry has not been negatively affected like in other industries. Most people who work in construction have held on to their jobs.
However, what's happening in other industries can affect your construction site. With so many being laid off or furloughed, they are struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table. This drives them to go find opportunities to steal items and sell them.
Construction sites are an attractive target because they're empty and filled with expensive items. Typically, no one is monitoring the construction site.
Construction companies need to be aware of this. It is the holiday season when many construction sites close down for the longest time out of the year. It's much needed as everyone deserves the break.
Crime spikes during the holiday season. Why? Part of it is the increase in alcohol and drug use. Add to that the stress associated with the holidays. They increase a person's likelihood of committing a crime.
Depressed people may find themselves turning to crime out of loneliness or dreading the idea of spending time with family. For some people, being with family is a volatile situation filled with conflict.
Moreover, holidays are not a routine time of the year according to Dr. Brian A. Kinnaird, a professor and former police officer. He specializes in social psychology and criminal justice. In an Oxygen article, he explains unpredictability increases the chances of someone committing a crime.
On top of all this, you have COVID-19. Very few people today have faced anything like this before. Those who were alive in the 1918 pandemic are centenarians who were most likely very young. Data shows an increase in domestic violence because of the pandemic.
Not many have ever spent this much time at home with their family members. If they had challenges before COVID-19, those challenges are now magnified. Their spending more time together is more harmful than helpful. Going to work and school gives families a chance to experience life outside of the home and have a break from each other.
Furthermore, many companies have laid off or furloughed employees. This adds an economic hardship to an already shaky situation.
Don't let this break your holiday spirit. Fortunately, you can do something about it. However, before you take off for the holidays, think about construction site security. The investment you make in security is small compared to the cost that comes with having unwanted visitors on the construction site. They can cause damage, steal equipment, dig out copper pipes, and more.
Any of these can delay the project. That's costly in more ways than one. It costs you money as you may have to pay a late penalty. It costs your reputation with the client who will tell others not to hire your company. It costs you time as you have to deal with the insurance company to cover the cost of replacement.
Not only do you contend with the holiday season and crime, but also winter. Cold weather adds hazards and challenges that require countermeasures. Besides that, nighttime setting in earlier means workers will contend with colder temperatures. The risk of slips and falls goes up. Even with gloves on, their hands can become cold and stiff. It makes it harder to operate equipment and use tools.
Moreover, the Center for Construction Research and Training reports that exposure is the cause of almost 15 percent of deaths in construction. Exposure refers to extreme temperatures, air pressure changes, and exposure to substances or electric current. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states the construction industry has the highest number and rate of fatal work injuries.
As if that's not enough, the pandemic makes things worse. With more people staying home and not driving around town, criminals figure no one is going to catch them on a construction site. Don't let hardened criminals or people down on their luck ruin your holiday memories when you return to the construction site.
The good news is you can take steps to cut risk and limit injuries on the construction site. Here are seven ways to enhance construction site security over the holidays and year-round to improve safety and security.
Save yourself time every year by creating a construction site security strategy to secure the site over the holidays, during winter, and all through the year. The plan contains a checklist of processes and procedures for securing the construction site. This helps you verify you've covered everything.
Useful things to include in the plan are winter weather procedures, winterization checklists, and employee training. List all the possible scenarios that can occur in the winter or while shut down for the holidays. For each scenario, include a description of how to respond. For example, the site shuts down for two weeks. What will you do to secure it? If something happens, how will you respond?
Don't wait until winter to create and implement the plan. Some activities must happen before the chilly weather season. Creating a checklist in order by timeline would be immensely helpful. For example, you want to do winterization and maintenance before it gets cold enough to harden the ground.
Don't forget the roadways and parking lot where heavy equipment travels and employees park. Note to check for potholes and uneven surfaces before the freeze. It'll be easier to repair while the ground remains pliable.
Training employees is a must. They need to know how to correctly use equipment, tools, and PPE. Training should occur multiple times of the year. For one, winter has different personal protective equipment (PPE). Training will ensure workers wear the right gear for colder weather.
Equipment also needs different treatment during the winter. Some equipment or tools may need warming up prior to use. Although this takes time to do, it minimizes damage and extends the life of the equipment. In the long run, it saves money and protects workers.
You never want to see a lapse in processes and procedures. Regular training reinforces that. It's also a good opportunity to educate them on the signs of hypothermia and illness. The sooner they catch it, the faster the recovery. A study has found that companies conducting training on a regular basis have the fewest work injuries.
Personal protective equipment is one of the best investments for construction companies to make in its employees. Yes, high-quality PPE costs more. However, one thing companies with the lowest rate of safety incidences have in common is their PPE investment and training employees on how to use it. The right gear for the weather leads to fewer construction site injuries, and that saves money.
Be aware cold weather affects mobility, hearing, and vision. Cold air affects dexterity and traction on the ground. Thick layered winter clothes limit mobility. Wet clothes increase the risk for injury and hypothermia. Covering the ears for warmth can reduce hearing. Eyewear can fog or have glare from the snow, which can affect vision. The ideal winter gear is waterproof, breathable, and warm without the bulk.
Some winter weather conditions are too dangerous for workers. Watch weather reports frequently because the weather can change in an instant. You want to prevent workers that may have had a dangerous commute to the site have to turn around and go back home.
Design a process for notifying workers when the site is closed and to stay home. One option is to post it on the company's website. Still, you want to communicate it another way. What if the power is out and the worker can't check the website? Or the website does down?
The construction site is all about assembling a building. There may not be a place for workers to go inside and warm up during breaks. A good solution is to bring in a heated trailer or tent that's big enough to support workers who take staggered breaks to maintain social distancing. It's important they have regular breaks to limit exposure.
Load the break area with single-serving snacks and drinks. It'll give them the energy they need to get through the next hours of work. Think twice about serving coffee because caffeine can increase the heart rate. A faster heart rate can trick workers into thinking they're not as cold as they actually are. They won't be able to self-regulate their temperatures.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that the highest number of deaths in construction is the result of falls. They're responsible for almost 40 percent of all construction site deaths. Therefore, remove any ice and snow as soon as possible. Clear it from stairs, ladders, scaffolding, and the roof. Use salt and sand as needed.
Remote video surveillance is your best business security during the holidays and year-round. It puts eyes on the entire property. Artificial and human intelligence team up to monitor the construction site. Advanced video analytics watch for certain scenarios and alert the trained security operator when something pops up.
The operator reviews the activity and responds appropriately. It could be issuing a warning over the audio speaker, calling the police, or contacting management.
Video monitoring can monitor for the effects of winter on the site, safety hazards, flooding from an unexpected and quick thaw, and bottlenecks in the people and vehicles coming and going on the site.
What about using security guards? Strategically placed cameras see far more. Security guards can only see around themselves and can't enter some areas on a construction site due to safety and liability concerns.
Cameras see everything without concern about hazards. While the operators may not be on-site, they can talk to people on the construction site through the audio speakers and call emergency as soon as they spot something.
Just like doing checks before winter and at the end of winter, video surveillance needs regular system health checks. Technology breaks and stops working. It's reality. The health checks spot issues before they become a problem. You don't want to run into an incident only to find out the cameras went down right before it happened.
The sad truth is criminals don't take the holidays off to relax and spend time with their favorite people. Some simply feel pressure to buy gifts for their families with the money they don't have. Or worse, they need to scrounge for food or money to buy it.
Instead of worrying about the construction site, leave the video monitoring to our trained team while you savor the holidays. When you're ready to ask your video surveillance questions, drop us a line.