Having a property under construction comes with many risks and liabilities. Many owners and contractors are aware of the safety risks involved in the actual construction process, but are unaware of the dangers when the site is shut down for the day. Fire and Vandalism or Theft are the most common risks and often costs projects severe monetary losses and delays.
Buildings under construction are usually largely unprotected—fire-protection systems such as sprinklers, smoke detectors, fire alarms, and fire walls are nonexistent or not yet operational until a building is near completion.
From a carelessly disposed cigarette to failure to properly store or dispose of combustible materials, these fires often result from lack of awareness and understanding of fire risks and consequences, and they are almost always preventable.
Even the smallest lapse in adherence to safety procedures can result in damage to the site itself as well as to surrounding buildings and can put workers, bystanders, and first responders at risk of injury or death.
Often times, construction site fires can spread rapidly before the fire department can arrive. Many times, there is no one around to raise the alarm or call the Fire Department even if a smoke detector is in place. This is despite the fact that construction sites are particularly vulnerable to fires. Ignition sources are common on construction sites, including equipment (such as heaters) and hot work (such as welding, cutting, grinding, soldering, and roofing of various kinds).
Beyond potential personal injury, death, and direct dollar loss, the impacts of construction site fires can have far-reaching, long-term economic and other community impacts.
Vandalism and Theft
Construction sites are often unsecured and therefore vulnerable to trespassing, which can lead to vandalism, theft, and intentionally set fires. Unsecured sites can be tempting to vandals. Without the proper protective gear and adequate lighting, they can be subject to trips, falls and injuries from unsecured items or equipment. This can cause severe economic damage as repairs and delays from these incidents can hinder a building’s completion time. These incidents amount to billions of dollars each year industry-wide. When sites are vandalized or equipment and materials are stolen- everyone suffers: Owners, Workers, Contractors, Dealers, and Insurance Companies.
Expensive equipment is a great target for thieves. Construction equipment is usually very expensive and hard to obtain. Most large equipment pieces are not tracked by a serial number or ID codes which makes recovering these items difficult. It is important that all pieces of equipment are properly stored (locked) and insured to make sure that expensive losses and delays do not delay your project.
Construction projects are usually on tight schedules and delays can cause huge monetary losses for everyone involved in the project. Additionally, constant vandalism and theft incidents can result in higher insurance premiums and can place bonding and borrowing power at risk.
Besides for having correct and appropriate insurance, there are ways to try and mitigate these risks. The first step would be to ensure that everything happening on a construction site is within strict OSHA compliance.
How to prevent Fire and Vandalism:
Fences and Locks- Although fences can be scaled and locks cut, these simple measures can often be a deterrent to causal thieves or vandals.
Proper Lighting- Bright lighting has been known to deter thieves as it is easier to commit a crime in the dark. Motion sensor lighting is a big deterrent and can also help indicate when there is a problem.
Security Guards- Having a live security guard is the best yet costliest deterrent. A security guard that is watching the site will prevent criminals and be able to call for help early in the event of a fire.
Security Cameras- Recording the criminals in action can be both a deterrent and a help for catching the criminals after the fact. If the camera has live-monitoring, then help can be dispatched quickly.
Despite most security measures, Fire and Theft or Vandalism can still occur. In this case, having the appropriate insurance coverage is necessary to mitigate the financial damage. Proper insurance can cover the direct loss of property or equipment and can also cover losses pertaining to delays and business interruption.
Read more about preventing fires and fire safety.