What Security for Construction Sites Is the Best Option?

Posted by Kirk Biddle on February 18, 2020

Copper theft costs the construction industry an average of $1 billion every year according to a Department of Energy report. National Equipment Register reports construction site theft costs a yearly average of $400 million. Note that the $400 million does not include stolen tools, building materials, or damages associated with the thieves or the vandalism that is frequent on construction sites.

The average estimated value of one stolen equipment is almost $30,000. Only one-fourth of the stolen equipment is ever recovered.

These numbers, while staggering alone, do not include the cost of business interruption. Such costs include project delay penalties, wasted workforce time, and the cost of rentals. It also makes it harder for construction companies to receive affordable insurance coverage. One Edmonton construction company says insurance costs have tripled because of thefts.

With more than 11,000 incidents of reported thefts in 2016 alone, approximately 32 thefts occurred every single day. It justifies the need for construction security.

A recent news story from Hawaii reveals thieves getting away with more than $100,000 in construction equipment. This kind of theft can cripple a small construction company. It's possible the construction company would have better results if they had implemented the right security. So, now the question is, which is the better option? Video surveillance or security guards?

Here's a look at each one.

Security Guards on Construction Sites

Although guards patrol the property, they can't see the entire construction site at any given time. They also can't check some areas on the construction site because it's not safe. Considering the visibility of a construction site, the suspects can easily watch the security guards. They learn their routines to determine the best time to attack.

What are the chances the security guards will catch something, and when they do, will they make the right decision? The actions of criminals have grown more dangerous. So dangerous that companies are telling their staff not to chase after them. This is for the sake of everyone’s safety.

What happens if a security guard trips and falls while chasing the suspects? It can turn into an insurance liability. Legal resource Nolo says that security guards can be held liable for causing injuries. They can face a personal injury claim in a negligence case. If a security guard's response exceeds what's necessary to retain an intruder, it could lead to liability for assault and battery.

A quick online search reveals many stories of security guards being arrested. A security guard who killed a thief ended up in jail per a Dallas Morning News story. In Maryland, Good Morning Maryland reports security guards chasing a criminal led to the suspect’s drowning. A lawsuit is in the works.

Police officers have arrested a security guard in Omaha. Apparently, the guard made terroristic threats in going after suspected thieves.

How Video Surveillance Works as Security for Construction Sites

Unlike security guards, video surveillance does not require having anyone on the construction site. Instead, it relies on a combination of analytics and human intelligence. As soon as suspicious activity pops up, the video surveillance system creates an alert so a trained security operator can investigate.

Trained security operators are in a remote monitoring center so they can't chase anyone, shoot a gun, or do anything that could lead to making the wrong decision. They're in a safe setting and not impacted by the emotional and physical impacts that occur during a physical confrontation. Without fearing of harm, or oven for their life, they can correctly handle the situation. It also helps remove the risk of liability.

The monitoring operator can respond to suspicious activity in different ways. One way is to issue a warning through the audio speaker. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't.

For times it doesn't scare off intruders, the operator calls the local police while following the suspect's movements. The operator stays on the line keeping law enforcement informed of the suspect's whereabouts. It's possible to use video surveillance cameras with 360-degree lenses. It allows them to follow the action in every direction.

A Quora discussion on theft and getting caught reveals eye-opening details. One of the posters is someone who had been indicted two years after the incident. How is that possible? Video surveillance cameras, social media, and physical evidence made it possible to catch him.

In the discussion that follows, commenters refer to video surveillance often. They say the technology has gotten sophisticated enough to catch and identify suspects. It has no blind spots.

It's possible for management to discover problems long after the incident happens. They can request a search and analysis of footage from the video surveillance. It can show what happened and who is responsible.

Video provides evidence of a forklift stolen from a construction site in Enid, Oklahoma. The suspect has been arrested. The results of using security guards and video surveillance lead to different outcomes. No one's safety is at risk with video surveillance. There are many videos of suspects being caught before they leave the construction site.

Video surveillance also provides physical evidence of the activities, something guards can't do. They're focused on protecting their life and the construction site. They're not going to take out their phones to record the action. Besides, the actual theft has most likely already occurred.

The Problems with Hiring Security Guards

One big problem with security guards is unpredictability. Too often, people think security guards are like the police except they work for a private company. That's not true. They don't receive training like law enforcement officers do. In many states, security guard training is not regulated or tracked. How does a construction company know what they are getting when they hire a security guard?

It takes hours of training to learn how to respond correctly to the situation. Human's fight-or-flight response is strong and hard to overcome. Security guards can fall victim to that and make mistakes when their lives are at stake.

Another issue is that 15 states do not require firearms training to become a licensed security guard. In fact, most states recommend security guards receive the following training:

  • Pre-assignment training: 8 hours
  • On-the-job training: 8 hours
  • Annual training: 8 hours

Do you want to trust someone to protect your construction site with a total of 24 hours of training? Will that prepare them for every scenario? Inadequate training can increase the chances of human error. That's why security guards are a liability.

Would you hire a security guard with a criminal history? A CNN and the Center for Investigative Reporting study has found that many security guards have a criminal history.

The security guard industry turnover is so high that 31 states do not require background checks. They don't have the resources to run them. In those that do, they don’t always run them.

Here are some news stories involving security guards:

Security guards' presence can be a deterrent. However, the fact their uniform often resembles a police officer can create a false sense of security. The truth is that they have little authority. Again, they cannot be everywhere on the construction site. Intruders know where the security guards patrol and take advantage of that.

With every security guard you hire, the cost multiplies. In addition to paying their salaries, you may need insurance coverage. The cost alone is enough to deter many companies.

Benefits of Using Video Surveillance

With video surveillance, you can maximize security for construction sites and ROI. For example, the average salary for a traditional security guard is $15 an hour. To maintain a guard 24/7, you'll need two guards working 12-hour shifts. That averages to over $360 per day for both guards for more than $10,000 per month. Remote video surveillance can save between 25 percent and 60 percent, depending on the solution selected.

Trained security operators watch the cameras in a safe remote location away from the construction site. Video surveillance eliminates unpredictability and human error associated with security guards.

You also get the evidence you need because video surveillance cameras record everything. If you watch these construction surveillance videos, you'll see many suspects being arrested before leaving the construction site. For times when they're too fast, the identifiable information from the recordings can help catch suspects.

What about liability claims? When implemented correctly, video surveillance can lower liability. With that, it can decrease your insurance premiums. The key to avoiding liability is remote monitoring. If no one watches the cameras, then it creates a false sense of security. That turns into a liability issue.

To learn more about construction security, pick up this free construction site security guide. To get a customized construction security solution that fits your requirements and budget, contact us.


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