Construction Sites Need These for Better Security

Posted by Ryan Cox on April 9, 2020

Construction sites are either a hubbub of activity or empty after workers have gone home. Both situations put them at risk. They tend to be giant sites. You can't see the entire property standing in one place.

Hence, a large crowded site makes it easy to steal something without anyone noticing. An empty site can be at risk for large equipment theft, vandalism, cargo theft, and crane climbers. Construction sites also have a high probability of injuries.

Still, it's possible to reduce your risk for all these factors. It's dependent on having the right construction security solutions. This article will address the factors affecting construction security and how to potentially lower the risks.

The High Price of Equipment Theft on Construction Sites

The National Equipment Register (NER) and National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) have teamed up to publish 2016 Equipment Theft Report on equipment stolen in the U.S. Its numbers come from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database containing details on more than 10,000 construction and farm equipment thefts.

Most thefts occur on other's premises. This often refers to a work site. The report says two factors affect the risk of theft: the location of the equipment and the amount of security at the location.

"Those work sites usually have lower levels of physical security than an 'Insured's Premises," which is often a fenced-in compound," NER and NICB write.

They advise doing the following to secure the equipment:

  • Disable them.
  • Use hydraulic cylinder locks, ignition or hydraulic system lockouts.
  • Remove the battery cables.
  • Stage the equipment.
  • Avoid leaving equipment on trailers.

The NCIC received more than 11.5k reports of equipment theft in 2016 alone, and that only covers reported thefts. Some companies don't report a theft in fear of rising insurance premiums. Considering NER says the average value of stolen equipment is $30,000, insurance premiums are likely high.

How do thieves decide what equipment to steal? The main factor is value. How much can they get for the stolen item? The second factor is movability. While large excavators have a high value, they're one of the most difficult equipment to transport.

The report says that wheel loaders and dozers are the most valuable types of equipment. However, a greater percentage of backhoes and skid steers are stolen in comparison to the wheel loaders and dozers. That's because they have greater movability and have more than one purpose. Thieves know they will be able to sell equipment with multiple functions.

Knowing about this will help you as you create your construction security strategy. For instance, you'll focus less on securing hard-to-haul equipment and more on securing transportable high-value equipment.

The Effects of Cargo Theft on Construction

Not only do construction companies need to worry about equipment theft, but also cargo theft. It's on the rise. And its effects cost more than the price of the stolen item. Here's how. SupplyChainBrain talks about a study on stolen digital cameras worth $200,000. To offset the loss, the company would need to increase the number of sales by 10 times, or $2 million!

The theft costs 10 times the value of the stolen item because of these factors:

  • Using expedited shipping to replace the stolen goods.
  • Paying taxes and duties for the replacements.
  • Harming the brand's reputation that leads to lower sales.

When you look at the numbers related to cargo theft, you can bet they're lower than they should be. Like with equipment theft, cargo theft is underreported.

For one, there's not a single system that can track all the thefts. Secondly, if they are tracked, they're not always categorized the same way. Companies know that insurance premiums may rise after a theft. So, they opt not to report it.

Nevertheless, cargo theft is a problem in the U.S. and Canada. Every year, Canada sees an estimated $5 billion worth of cargo theft per CBC Canada. For the U.S., CargoNet reports the average value per cargo theft has exceeded $150,000 in 2019.

The Problem with Crane Climbers

You won't find statistics on crane climbing. Unfortunately, there are plenty of stories about them. Here's one from Florida. A demonstrator climbed a crane on a construction site waiting on President Trump's arrival. He wanted Trump to pardon a Cuban exile. To show his support, he had an American flag and a banner.

WSVN 7 News in Miami says the police told the workers on the construction site to leave. The police arrested the demonstrator. No one got hurt. However, this crane climbing put the project one day behind schedule.

The reports go on. CTV News in Canada shows a man who climbed a crane at a construction site. Elsewhere in San Jose, KPIX 5 reports on two men who climbed the top of a construction crane. The suspects climbed down safely in both cases.

That's not always the case. CBS News told the story a suspected car thief who went up a crane after leading the police on a chase. After three hours, a SWAT team tried to persuade him to come down. Unfortunately, he fell and died.

Construction Workers Are at Risk for Work Injuries

Out of all industries, CDC states the most fatal falls occur in construction. It accounts for over half of the falls in the U.S. Safety and Health Magazine points to intriguing data from the Center for Construction Research and Training researchers. A worker in construction for 45 years has a 1-in-200 chance of getting a fatal injury on the job. By the same token, the likelihood of this same worker experiencing a disabling injury is 75 percent.

An on-the-job injury costs more than paying the medical bills. The National Safety Council says the total cost of work injuries in 2017 was a colossal $161.5 billion! It's hard to visualize. How about this? This is 54 times Amazon's profits and three times Apple's in 2017.

Just one work-related injury costs the company an average of $39,000. This number does not add indirect costs. A work-related injury can delay the project. A delay can also affect the company's reputation. Injuries can hurt worker morale and customer service.

In a survey of safety professionals, BLR has found the main cause for most slips, trips, and falls are human-related factors. These are responsible for over half of the injuries. Second at 25 percent is wet or slippery surfaces. The third is housekeeping issues. Clearly, these injuries can be prevented with the right security solutions.

How to Lower Risks on Construction Sites

What kind of construction security can reduce the risk for equipment theft, crane climbers, vandalism, copper theft, and injuries? The most effective construction security contains multiple layers. That's not limited to security tools and technology.

1. Training

No security technology is infallible. An employee can easily create a hole in security. Companies successful with their security program provide new employee training as well as regular training for all current employees. This is how the company builds a culture of safety in construction.

Every employee adds eyes to your site. That's why the training must encourage workers to say something when they see something. They need to know how to report any potential problems they see and do it anonymously.

2. Lighting

Remember to investigate low-tech security like lighting. It's one of the cheapest ways to enhance the security of a construction site. Thieves like to come out at night when the site is dark and empty. However, shine a spotlight on the site and they may think twice.

3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

It's worth investing in the best quality PPE. Every injury you prevent with proper PPE is money well-spent. Paying for expensive medical bills will cost much more than PPE. Companies with the lowest rate of safety incidents not only use high-quality PPE but also train employees on their proper use.

4. Remote Video Surveillance

Having your workers' eyes on your site is a great start. When you round it out with remote video surveillance, you close any potential gaps. Remote video surveillance is a proactive security solution. This system relies on a combination of analytics and human intelligence to spot potential problems. It can help catch intruders before they do damage. It can see places where workers can't always see.

For instance, someone approaches the site after hours. The system alerts the trained monitoring operator. Located offsite, the operator can send a verbal warning over the two-way speaker. If this doesn't deter the trespasser, the operator can call the police and stay on the line until they arrive at the construction site. This approach helps to limit damage and prevent suspects from getting away with the crime.

It also helps with worker and site liability. Remember, most injuries are preventable. Video surveillance records everything and can spot problem areas. The footage can be used to prove who was at fault in an accident.

So much happens on a construction site. It's hard to keep an eye on all of it with its many safety and security challenges. Implementing the right construction security can help your bottom-line and business reputation. It also helps protect your assets and mitigate liability. You may even see your insurance premiums drop. Most importantly, an effective construction site security program helps everyone feel safer.

To learn more about construction security, pick up your free guide to securing your construction site. Our construction security specialists can customize a security plan for your construction site. Contact us to see what can be done for you.

Posted in: Crime Prevention, Video Security Systems, Security Guards & Savings, Security Tips, Video Monitoring