What if someone walked onto a construction job site, through any number of access points, and no one questioned his presence on the site? Unfortunately, this happens frequently on many construction sites.
When GC’s superintendents are asked what their primary goals are on the site, the vast majority say it is to bring the job in on time and on budget. When superintendents are asked where site security falls on the list of priorities, they give a wide range of answers. Considering the potential hazards today’s construction sites pose to employees and the general public, not to mention the potential loss of material and equipment from theft, site security should be near the top of the list.
Items to consider when reviewing security on construction sites include:
- Security Plans. Every construction site will benefit from having a well-developed, site-specific security plan. Items to be addressed on a site security plan should be based on local and regional crime information as well as potential targets on site. All managerial staff of the general contractor, as well as the subcontractors on site, should be trained on the specifics of the security plan. The plan should be routinely reviewed with all employees on the site. Routine (minimum of monthly) audits of the security plan and its effectiveness should be conducted. These audits are to be documented and maintained for review.
- Perimeter Security. Basic site security starts with a good perimeter barrier system. The most common perimeter barrier will be fencing. Regardless of the type of barrier that is used, it must be secured and allow only a limited number of access points. The best form of monitoring the access points would be to position a security guard (to be discussed further later in the article) at the access points to verify only approved personnel are allowed onto the site. When access points are not open, high quality locks are to be used to secure the opening. The keys to these locks should be maintained by either the GC or the security guard. The keys can be logged out to personnel as needed to allow for access through pre-determined locations.
- Signage. Various warning signs are to be placed along the entire perimeter warning the general public that the site is hazardous and is monitored by 24-hour security (whether it is or not). “No trespassing” signs should also be placed along the perimeter to warn the public that trespassers will be arrested (whether they will be or not).
- Lighting. After-hours lighting should remain on through the night. The first level of lighting should be focused along the perimeter of the job site. Someone who is considering entering the site after hours to vandalize the site, damage property or steal material or equipment is far less likely to do so if the site is well-lit. Extra light should be located near the storage areas of valuable assets, materials or equipment.
- CCTV. Closed Circuit Television positioned around the jobs site will assist in identifying and prosecuting trespassers and theft suspects. CCTV will also assist the general contractor in monitoring employee activities. DVR devices should be maintained, with offsite video storage back up.
- Security Guards. Whether the general contractor utilizes 24-hour security guards or after-hours guards, the GC should position bar codes (that the security guard scans at various checkpoints) throughout the job site to ensure the guard is making routine rounds. These bar codes should be, at a minimum, located at every access point, every fire extinguisher, every equipment/tool storage area and at all high-dollar assets. The security guards should also be trained on use of the CCTV monitoring system. Security guards should be provided with company communication devices (cell phone) while on duty. The security guards must have a reliable communication device in order to notify police and fire.
- OANs. All high value assets are to be permanently marked with an Owner Applied Number (OAN). The OANs are to be documented and recorded. Since many assets do not have serial numbers, OANs will be invaluable in assisting law enforcement with identifying and recovering stolen assets.
- GPS Tracking. All portable high-value assets should be equipped with hidden GPS tracking devices. GPS tracking along with OANs will greatly increase the likelihood of recovering any stolen assets. The National Insurance Crime Bureau estimates that $1 billion worth of construction equipment is stolen every year in the U.S. Only about 30 percent is ever recovered.
- Re-Key Equipment. To reduce the likelihood of being stolen, all equipment that utilizes common keys should either be re-keyed or equipped with a passcode system.
If contractors implement just a few of the above-listed processes, they will likely see a dramatic reduction in vandalism, theft of materials and property, damage to property and potential liability exposure due to injuries to trespassers.