Site security is an important issue. If you are working on a construction project then trespassers may want to access your site. These trespassers could be squatters, thieves, or your site could be blocking someone’s normal access route and they may still attempt to pass through the site.
Trespassers could also be children. Construction sites can appear to be exciting places for children who are unaware of the dangers. Each year a number of children are killed and injured on construction sites.
All construction sites require:
- Measures to manage access across defined boundaries; and
- Steps to exclude unauthorised people.
Not every unauthorised person might be accessing your site maliciously or to cause trouble. People can walk through construction sites to take a short cut, or simply because they don't realise it is a construction site.
Site security must be well managed to avoid injury to members of the public. If someone is injured on your site or by your work, you may have failed in your legal duties. It is an employers responsibility to protect members of the public from risk. And, as a contractor or principal contractor under CDM, you have a specific legal duty to secure your construction site.
(4) The principal contractor must ensure that [...] (b)the necessary steps are taken to prevent access by unauthorised persons to the construction site;
Here are 20 tips for better construction site security:
So you know who is on site, and who isn't. Every person on your site needs to be accounted for if there is a fire or other emergency. This also means that at the end of the shift, you know when everyone has signed out and can check the site is secure.
Badges and hard hat stickers can be used to quickly visually identify authorised personnel on site. This makes it easier to know who is supposed to be there, has been inducted, and is safe on site.
Ensure the site perimeter is secured with 2m high fencing to prevent access to children. Look out for gaps underneath, particularly where the ground is uneven.
Fences alone are not enough to warn people of the dangers. Do they know why their usual route home is blocked with a barrier? If not they might just be tempted to jump over and cut through. Make sure you clearly display danger and warning signs around the perimeter.
Ensure unauthorised people are prevented from accessing the site by securing and monitoring entry points. If anyone can walk onto the site without being challenged, it makes it easier for unauthorised visitors to gain access.
Ensure authorised persons are fully inducted and understand the site security procedures and controls. If gates need to be kept locked, or barriers need to remain in place, make sure everyone knows. Keep security procedures enforced throughout the project.
Ensure visitors are supervised at all times on site. These are not unauthorised people, but they also may not fully understand the hazards or security procedures.
You might not always know if someone is unauthorised, or just new. A delivery driver looking for the site office, an employee of the architect, or a friend of the client. Question any person you suspect to be a trespasser and escort them off-site if they are not authorised.
Lock access gates after normal working hours and any time the site is left unoccupied. Remember, an unlocked gate is like having no gate at all.
Take extra precautions if the site is left unoccupied over weekends or holidays, such as CCTV or security patrols if needed.
Take extra precautions if the site is located in a heavily populated area or close to a school. You should also take extra precautions if your site is within an occupied building such as school or hospital, to segregate the works area from the adjacent land uses.
Remove access ladders from excavations and scaffolds out of hours. Ladders can give unauthorised people, especially children, and an exciting challenge to access areas they otherwise would not be able to. Remove anything that might be tempting.
Barrier off or cover excavations, pits and edges when out of use. Falling into trenches is a real hazard to trespassers, who are not aware of where excavations are, especially in the dark.
Immobilise all vehicles and plant when out of use and left unattended. Never leave keys with mobile plant, equipment and vehicles.
Even when immobilised, lock vehicles and plant within a secure site compound and out of view if possible. You don't want trespassers vandalising, abusing or stealing things from important equipment.
Speaking of keeping things out of view, power tools, materials and equipment should also be stored securely out of sight. Anything that could be tempting to thieves should be kept out of sight from the site perimeter.
Lock away hazardous substances within secure storage units designed for that purpose.
Ensure building materials are safely stacked and stored so that they can't topple over. Or be easily knocked over.
Consider wind and other weather events and make sure your site stays safe and secure when you are away. If a storm hits, will your scaffold stay in place, will your barriers remain secure?
Regularly check perimeter hoarding or fencing to ensure it is intact and secure. Don't let things slide as the project progresses, maintain your security procedures from start to finish.
Raise awareness with your team by downloading the site security toolbox talk. Use as a quick refresher to provide on-site health and safety training to your workforce.