A review carried out by leading insurer Allianz Cornhill shows the cost of theft in the UK’s construction industry is between £600m and £1bn each year. And only around 2% of what’s lost is ever recovered.
These startling statistics are only likely to worsen, thanks to the deepening cost-of-living crisis that’s reported to be driving a significant crime wave. For example, fuel theft from garage forecourts is indicated by the RAC Foundation to have escalated by 77% year on year. And over the preceding 4 years these crimes have increased fourfold.
The shift from red to white diesel in the UK is reported to have led to a surge in opportunistic fuel theft crimes from building sites.
Essential Construction Site Security Recommendations
Effective perimeter security and robust access point control are essential to protect valuable equipment, building materials and fuel. Preventing people from seeing what’s on the site by using hoarding boards rather than see-through fencing is a valuable precaution. Another valuable security measure is the use of CCTV. Solar-powered CCTV systems have become increasingly affordable and clearly announcing the presence of security cameras is often enough to deter opportunistic thieves.
Strong physical barriers, anti-climb precautions and high quality locks are all very effective in preventing intruders from even attempting to gain entry.
Lighting is another precaution that’s highly effective. Thieves like to work unseen, under the cover of darkness so the installation of motion triggered lights, focused on areas where valuable equipment and resources are located, is another valuable precaution. Lighting that’s only activated when a trespasser is detected save energy and costs and some lighting systems can be integrated with CCTV and alert systems.
Neighbourly support is also a valuable consideration. Many building sites are located in residential areas, right next door to where people live. Building good relations with these neighbours can pay off as they might raise alerts if they see any suspicious behaviour around the site.
Another important option is to consider the employment of professional site monitoring. This might be provided by a security company or, in some circumstances, it can make sense to employ round-the-clock onsite security.
Site access control is another important requirement both for security and for health and safety. Ideally, nobody should ever be on the site without permission and their details, including the reason they are there, should have been assessed to allow them onto the construction site.
Recognising the onsite valuables that attract criminals and ensuring they are as secure as possible is another important aspect of building site security. Diesel fuel has already been mentioned, but the cost of building materials has skyrocketed making them very valuable to criminals who know they can quickly resell them to unscrupulous buyers. And onsite plant and machinery is also vulnerable to theft. Ideally, everything of value should be securely locked away inside secure containers or structures. And anything that moves, such as plant machinery, should be securely locked to immovable anchor points using robust security chains and high quality locks. While these precautions take time and cost they can save a fortune over what it would cost if they were stolen.
Risk Assessment and Security Planning
Before implementing any security precautions it makes sense to carry out a risk assessment, identify vulnerabilities along with potential threats. Also, consider the potential impact of losing valuable tools, equipment and building resources to theft, what it will cost to replace them and what the loss would do to the construction project schedule.
The site risk assessment should enable a sensible security plan to be drafted that clearly defines and describes the site security objectives alongside the strategies, actions and resources required to meet them. The site security plan should be shared with everyone on the site along with contractors and suppliers. And the plan should be routinely reviewed as the construction project progresses.
Another important aspect of construction site security is the need for regular site security audits and inspections. Site security audits should systematically assess how effective site security is and look in detail at any security issues, such as theft and damage. All of the construction site’s security policies, procedures and practices need to be routinely examined to make certain they are working as required.