Jobsite equipment is a target for theft, as tools and equipment can be extremely valuable. Theft of construction equipment, tools, materials, fixtures and end-user appliances costs the construction industry close to $1 billion a year, reports the National Insurance Crime Bureau. And according to the National Equipment Register (NER), heavy equipment theft is on the rise, with 11,625 thefts were reported in 2014 alone.
Adding insult to injury, security violations on the jobsite are costlier than ever, with OSHA penalties increasing for safety violations by 78 percent in 2016. Currently, the maximum penalty for a willful or repeat violation is $124,709, up from $70,000. And the minimum penalty is up to $8,908.
To mitigate risk and avoid stiff penalties, forward-thinking construction companies are rapidly adopting various technologies that help increase security and deter theft. Here are some smart ways to increase jobsite security using technology.
IoT and Telematics
More and more manufacturers are installing telematics systems on construction machines and equipment, leveraging new IoT and GPS technologies. Telematics systems enable construction companies to monitor equipment using sensors and onboard diagnostics, and track the location, performance and operation. Data regarding working hours, fuel consumption, engine temperatures and idle times can all be transmitted back to a central project tracking application for review and analysis over a satellite or cell signal.
Many systems enable project managers to receive alerts when equipment is checked out or returned through a browser-based interface on their desktop or smartphone.
Additionally, GPS enabled virtual fences can be set up to shut down equipment if someone tries to operate it outside a designated jobsite area. If the equipment is stolen anyway, the GPS system can help project managers easily located and recover it—and hopefully find the culprit.
First used for supply chain management, RFID tags are now being used to increase security and reduce jobsite theft. Firms can use them to track who checks out equipment and when, and to record attendance in lieu of timecards.
RFID tags contain a microchip that stores and processes data, and an antenna for receiving signals. RFID readers can be deployed at the jobsite trailer or equipment warehouse; when an employee or piece of equipment passes by the reader, electromagnetic waves power up the tags. The tag then sends the data to the backend project tracking software.
Most jobsite theft occurs at night or on weekends, when the crew has gone home and no one is there to watch for intruders. Construction cameras are therefore an essential piece of the jobsite security puzzle.
Advanced construction cameras offer time-lapse photography, live video streaming and the ability to monitor the jobsite remotely. Some models even allow you to control the camera remotely, so you can pan, tilt and zoom in on different areas to zoom in on the perpetrator. Advanced solutions provide high –definition video to capture detailed video evidence, even when it’s dark and the action is distant. Camera footage also serves as a documented history of security incidents that occur.
Cameras provide a visual deterrent, as well—if a potential thief spots a jobsite camera, he may not attempt to steal anything. As an added benefit, security cameras are active during the workday, so project managers and investors have insight to daily operations and can watch a crew’s progress remotely.
Don’t Forget the Basics
Of course, construction companies should also work to create a culture of security and accountability among jobsite employees, and take the following standard precautions:
Provide sufficient lighting after hours: Keeping all areas of the jobsite well-lit, especially during the night after workers have gone home, serves as a deterrent—thieves don’t want to be seen.
Secure the perimeter with a physical fence: As a first line of defense standard or electric fences create an extra obstacle for thieves after hours.
Install signage to deter thieves: Signs can act as a deterrent, letting any prospective criminal know the jobsite is protected and they are under surveillance.