Crime Costs the Industry £800 million every year
Each year, the construction sector incurs significant losses through theft, vandalism and neglect. But steps are being taken to fight back.
Construction is one of the most important contributors to the UK economy, and is a sector that employs more than three million people. It is also, however, an industry that is haemorrhaging money every week as a result of criminal activity. The types of crime in construction typically fall into three broad categories. Let’s take a look at each to understand the challenges faced and the tools available to reduce the impact of construction crime.
Theft from construction sites
Theft is far and away the most common type of crime in the construction industry, and it comes in various forms. It is no exaggeration to say that almost every construction site is affected – an astonishing 92 percent of construction professionals said they have experienced theft at least once per year, while 21 percent say it happens every week.
Technology has an important role to play here, and construction site security systems are getting smarter and more effective with every passing week. Integrated surveillance systems can make a real difference in combatting the theft of plant and equipment by organised gangs, a problem that has escalated over the past decade.
However, as much as 50 percent of thefts are perpetrated by employees and contractors working on the site. Better control and logging of tools and materials is key to reducing these types of crime, and can also bring better efficiency in terms of resource management.
It might come as a surprise to hear that more than 90 percent of those interviewed in the above study said they have experienced vandalism on their construction sites. Whether it is part and parcel of the thefts or the act of mindless groups with nothing better to do, it can result in significant repair costs and periods of downtime that put projects behind schedule.
Again, technology is an important tool. The very presence of a CCTV camera is enough to deter many acts of mindless vandalism, while properly secured fencing and gates will also have a positive effect. The most powerful tool of all, though, is one that has been in use for hundreds of years. If a security guard is present, particularly one accompanied by a large dog, instances of vandalism are almost eliminated.
Health and safety breaches
Despite the UK’s exemplary health and safety record compared with other countries, construction remains the nation’s most dangerous industry. Health and safety breaches are any construction professional’s worst nightmare. Of course, the human cost is unquantifiable, and nobody wants to see anyone getting hurt. But there are also consequential costs in terms of the delays and potential fines resulting from a regulatory investigation.
Training and monitoring are the watchwords here. Most breaches are brought about by carelessness or poor controls, such as failure to secure a site against people wandering in, spills and trip hazards being left unaddressed and contractors taking short cuts or not bothering with the appropriate PPE.
As well as carrying out regular training activities, site management can use security technology to monitor what is happening from day to day and ensure all health and safety procedures are followed to the letter.