There’s nothing worse than showing up to the construction site bright and early, only to see a bare patch of ground where the day’s lumber load is supposed to be.
Then that sinking feeling hits: not only have you lost a ton of money from the theft, but …
- Your workers have no lumber to build, which means …
- You’re paying them for nothing, which also means …
- You’re not going to get the day’s work done, which also means …
- You’re going to have to delay the project, which finally means …
- Your profit margin is going to shrink.
Not a great way to start the day.
But that’s just one side of construction site security. You have to worry about equipment theft, too. Only 25 percent of stolen construction equipment is recovered each year, and the National Equipment Register estimates that the value of this stolen equipment annually is between $300 million and $1 billion.
And don’t forget the cyber and construction software side of security. Data breaches expose your company to numerous risks, whether it be your competitors or the threat of lawsuits.
What to Do About Construction Site Security
Construction site security is a big deal, and there are all sorts of ways things could go wrong for your company. Construction theft and cyber breaches can completely derail projects, so you must use a combination of video surveillance, cyber security and other high-tech—and also low-tech—tools at your disposal to protect your next project from disaster.
Here are some best practices to employ to improve construction site security and avoid being the next victim of theft—or worse.
1. Put Up Fencing and Signs
Sometimes, the old-school ways are the best. And there is no better deterrent to thieves than erecting a high fence and posting “no trespassing” signs.
Believe it or not, not all job sites do this. And sometimes, there may be regulations preventing it, making securing your site difficult.
But if you can do it, install a fence that is at least 8 feet high and have one point of entry that can easily be monitored.
“No trespassing” signage ideally should go all around the fencing so it’s clear the area shouldn’t be accessed by anyone who doesn’t work at the site. By adding a note that the area is under surveillance, you may further deter criminals.
Recommendation: Limit your construction site to just one entry point. It may be somewhat inconvenient for your workers, but it will make your site far more secure.
2. Install a Video Surveillance System
If you’ve been putting off installing a video surveillance system at your job site because of the expense, now’s the time to invest. Basic camera surveillance setups only cost a few hundred dollars, although more advanced construction site security option will likely cost in the thousands.
Even at that price range, think about how much a theft would cost you. You wouldn’t be losing out on just the cost of the material—you’d also have to factor in what kind of delay that would cause, and therefore how much that would cost your project
A surveillance system will save you money right away by lowering the cost of insurance in most cases. Here’s a look at what a surveillance system can offer you:
PTZ-HD-20 and a sample image from a video feed (Source)
Don’t forget lighting. Thieves thrive in darkness, so the best deterrent when you don’t have anyone around is to keep the site well-lit. This may cost you a little bit extra on the lighting bill, but if you’ve been stung by an expensive theft, you know it’s worth it.
Recommendation: Look into integrating drones in your security apparatus. Automated drones can monitor your job site 24/7 and alert you to any suspicious activity.
3. Use GPS Trackers
GPS trackers offer an easy way to secure valuable materials and equipment at your job site that wasn’t readily available 20 years ago.
GPS devices are very small and often come with software that allows you to always know the location of anything you want tracked no matter where you are.
Some types of equipment already come with GPS installed, so there’s no added cost to you. But even if you have to spring for a small device to attach to a backhoe or a large shipment of marble, for example, it will more than pay for itself if someone ever makes off with your goods.
Recommendation: Look for GPS tracking sofware options that allow you to watch all the items you want to track in real time.
4. Schedule Material Deliveries Carefully
Sometimes, good security comes down to effective logistics. It may not have occurred to you that delivery schedules matter, but it has occurred to the people looking to steal from you.
When you have building material lying around, particularly overnight when no one is at the job site, you place a big target for thieves.
Schedule your deliveries so they arrive exactly when you need them, which will both deter thieves and make for a more efficient job site.
Delivery schedule in Smartsheet (Source)
Work with your supplier on a delivery schedule that is optimized for your schedule, and only work with suppliers who can deliver in tight windows.
Recommendation: Construction scheduling software will help you attach deliveries to specific tasks on your project calendar, which will help you use up material and not leave it out overnight.
5. Implement Cyber Security Best Practices
It’s not just your equipment and materials you need to keep an eye on: your construction firm also houses a lot of valuable data that cyber thieves would like to get their hands on. As equipment and daily operations become more connected to the cloud, your construction site is a more fertile ground for hackers.
Sensitive files and data could be stolen if you don’t have some cyber security best practices in place.
- Install security software and firewalls. Our business security software directory includes lots of solutions that will help keep intruders out of your network.
- Set up your own secure Wi-Fi server at the job site. You may be tempted to use a cheaper local option, but by setting up your own Wi-Fi you can control the security settings and personally ensure your data is safe.
- Train your personnel. Most security lapses are due to human error, not because the security systems in place failed, so it is important to train your workers. Specifically, they need to be able to spot phishing attempts, identify malware risks, and have procedures in place for how they share sensitive info.
Recommendation: If you’ve been doing it all yourself, consider hiring at least a part-time IT security consultant to provide the expertise you need here.
Start Taking Simple Construction Site Security Steps
You don’t have to totally overhaul your operation to start making it more secure. Take these simple steps tomorrow as you work up plans for a more comprehensive security makeover:
- Contact your supplier to work up a more efficient delivery schedule where materials arrive exactly on time.
- Browse business security software to find an option that might work for your firm.
- Order some GPS trackers online that you can keep handy for whatever equipment or material deliveries you have to leave at the job site overnight.
- Purchase an inexpensive security camera or two to monitor the most sensitive points at your construction site.
- Contact your insurer to ask how you could make the site more secure.
- Put up more signage warning would-be thieves, and limit your site to just one entry point.