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19th December, 2019

Securing Your Construction Site For Christmas Shutdown

It's that time of year again. Less than 10 days to go until Christmas and many in the construction industry are planning a well-deserved break. Working in construction can be especially hard work at this time of the year, with cold temperatures, poor weather conditions and shorter days. The time off over the festive season is a great way to re-charge the batteries.

But when you're away, things can go wrong on site. Preparing for your Christmas shutdown can help make sure that you don't have any unwanted interruptions on Christmas day, or any nasty surprises waiting for you when you come back in the new year.

With many sites closed for 2 weeks, until the new year, planning your site shut down needs to high on the list of priorities... even if you do still have your Christmas shopping to do!

Here's a quick list of checks to make before you break up for Christmas:

  • Check the perimeter fencing is in place and secure
  • Check all gates
  • Lock up all entrance points
  • Remove valuable from the site or put in secure storage
  • Lock up all containers
  • Check temporary structures are stable and able to withstand bad weather conditions
  • Store away any materials and equipment on site
  • Remove all keys and immobilise plant
  • Barrier or cover all excavations
  • Remove ladders and access to scaffolding and platforms
  • Remove waste and flammable materials to reduce the risk of arson
  • Consider CCTV or patrols in high-risk areas
  • Provide an out of hours emergency contact for the site
This is not your emergency contact!

Christmas is generally the longest period of closure for most construction sites. So site security needs to be a top consideration to prevent any unwanted visitors or problems while you're off-site.

You have a legal duty to secure your construction site, and prevent access. It might sound obvious, but making sure your site fencing is strong and intact, signage displayed, and entrance points locked is a must. It's the basics, but can sometimes be overlooked. So walk the perimeter, and check for any weaknesses, signs of damage, or areas of poor security.

For more security advice, read 20 tips for better construction site security.

When leaving your site unattended for long periods, you should think about extra steps needed to keep it safe and secure. Since every site is different, you need to assess your site for the security risks that may be present. For example, sites in city centres, or within occupied premises, might be at an increased risk compared to sites in low-risk rural areas for problems such as trespass, theft or arson. If you are in a high-risk location, consider patrols and CCTV as a deterrent and also so any problems can be caught early.

To reduce the risk of theft make sure you remove any highly valuable items from the site or at least remove them from view. Lock vehicles and plant within a secure site compound if possible, and lock up tools and equipment within a secure storage area.

icy fence
Check your fencing and gates

During periods of shutdown, your site could become a target for arson. Following good practices like locating skips away from the site perimeter and away from buildings can help to reduce the risks. Removing rubbish and waste materials before the shutdown can also remove temptation from someone looking for an easy target.

Find out more in 13 fire prevention tips for construction sites.

If your site is located in a built-up and busy area, any problems on your site are also more likely to have a knock-on effect to adjacent premises. But having neighbours can also bring benefits. For example, if adjacent businesses will remain open throughout your shutdown period, they may be able to notice any problems, such as damaged hoarding or signs of a break-in, and report them to you. This allows you to resolve any out-of-hours issues quickly. Make sure you have a contact number made available and an out of hours point of call to handle any issues.

It is also important to remember that the Christmas period can bring with it some bad weather. And while you don't have to work in it, your site needs to remain standing. We have seen in recent storms the devastating effects strong winds can have on scaffolding and other temporary structures such as site fencing. Entire scaffold structures have been ripped down in gale force winds in parts of the country. Will your site be able to brave the storm?

You should have emergency contact numbers displayed or available should anything urgent need attending to, such as a break-in or hoarding damage over the closure period.

Hopefully, you are looking forward to some time off with friends and family over Christmas, and by securing your site and planning the shutdown in advance, you can give yourself a better chance of having a worry-free break.

Raise awareness regarding site security with your team by downloading our toolbox talk on site security. Used as a 10-minute refresher to provide health and safety training to your workforce.

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This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.

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