Mothballed Construction Sites Part 2: Securing the Site
In this second part of our two-part series focusing on construction sites, we will look at some of the best solutions for securing those projects that have been abandoned as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Vacant sites can be a target for vandals, so it is vital that any site is properly secured once the decision has been made to shut the project down. However, it’s not just human risk construction owners must secure against, sites in various stages of completion are also vulnerable to the elements.
After a project is shelved, the first step is to notify the local council and police of the site being vacant. They will usually be able to make the area part of their daily and nightly patrol if it doesn’t already fall within their remit. This won’t always be the case for more remote risks; however, it is safer to cover this base as a general rule.
Beyond the police and council, security can come in both passive and active forms, from simple gated access to a full 24-hour security guard, and there are many options open to site owners when the decision is made to secure a site.
Active and Passive measures
Passive methods of security can include a fully hoarded site, signage stating that the area is alarmed or patrolled, with good lighting, strong locks, and secure access points, materials stored on a ‘just in time’ basis or in a secure compound/container. All these measures will generally deter opportunistic break-ins on a project site.
Active security measures will typically include security guards, patrolling guards, PIR (passive infra-red) sensors, and fingerprint access. Policyholders can also minimise both the cost and the potential PL risk by using mounted cameras which can be monitored using an app on your phone. These can also be linked to police response and to the insurer, the advantage of these mounted cameras is that they usually cover a 360-degree area and come equipped with a thermal sensor. This is perfect to monitor hotspots, anything from the beginnings of an electrical fire to arson, and ensure an adequate and timely response which could prevent a total loss to the insured.
When thinking about security, it is important to take the whole site into consideration. Scaffolding should ideally be alarmed, and access limited or removed entirely to prevent illegal access by third parties whilst the site is unoccupied. In one claim I’ve dealt with, the ground floor of a vacant site was secured with state of the art locking systems and PIR sensors with CCTV throughout, all excellent protection, however, the first and subsequent floors had nothing in place, so when the thieves gained access to the scaffolding they were able to empty the whole property except for the ground floor of all materials and items because the windows weren’t in yet and no security measures were in place.
Another topical risk in the construction industry is water management. We see many claims for water damage on construction sites left vacant. One of the best ways to mitigate this risk is by implementing a good water flow or water management system, these are capable of recognising sudden increases in water flow and alert site owners to a potential problem or automatically switch off the supply.
For an insurer, hearing that their insured has one of these systems on-site is a key indicator that the client is thinking about risk management. The Construction Insurance Risk Engineers Group (CIREG) lays out a good foundation for an insured to refer to but as these are only advisory it is also important to work with risk management experts and the insurer in order to agree on what can and cannot be achieved.
To find out more about how to protect your business in these unprecedented times pleaseclick here.