How crime can affect site morale

Did you know small tools are the most common stolen item from construction sites?

With high staff turnover, lots of movement and the temporary nature of project work, sites are ripe targets for theft. It is a significant challenge that costs the construction industry at least £800M a year, and leaves a quarter of tradesmen out of pocket trying to replace personal equipment.

Losing tools is a real fear when it comes to poor on-site security and it can affect team morale. Workers can feel personally responsible for losing equipment and worried about securing future work if thefts have taken place. This highlights the importance of protecting sites and ensuring staff understand security procedures.

“Firms don’t appreciate who they’re dealing with when it comes to site crime”, says BauWatch MD Alexis Potter. He adds: “We already know a lot of construction crime is the work of insiders or organised professionals. When faced with enemies like this, workers need outside support. Given some workers report having to replace the cost of tools themselves, it’s worrying that they don’t feel confident about on-site security. It raises key questions about their safety, not to mention their morale, which is already a challenge for this sector.”

An industry in need of support

Robust site security is the best way to prevent theft and loss of morale as a result. However, there is still a distinct lack of confidence in both the pre-emptive measures taken by contractors and the reaction times of security firms. Until an incident occurs, security is often a low priority, yet almost half of workers agree that companies should think about security measures before construction beginsibid.

When crimes do occur, response times and post-event support by security firms can be problematic. Just one in ten professionals describe the pace of response times as ‘excellent’ and nearly one in five rate their experience with security firms as either poor or very pooribid. Can we pin this on budget constraints or is there more to be said?

Action you can take right now

Visible measures, such as CCTV towers and temporary fencing work, are effective deterrents. Well-lit sites can also ward off thieves by illuminating dark corners where trespassers might go unnoticed.

Clear communication and regular, systematic training also empower teams to safeguard construction sites. Standardised site inductions can make all the difference when accompanied by digital and physical training record management. Each session should include a security angle, with informal toolbox talks at every site. Remind teams of straightforward best-practice measures like securely storing keys from machinery and ensuring that gates are locked. Adding to this, ensure you make security providers aware of working patterns, especially when things change, to prevent false alarms.

Finally, be agile – all projects work on an evolving timeline, and threat levels must be assessed and adjusted accordingly. Firms might even want to rethink their security around public holidays when sites may be left empty and vulnerable or seasonal changes like darker winter days. A traffic light system can be an effective solution here, with red representing a high threat level, for instance.

Invest in high morale

Construction projects are immensely expensive, so there’s a reluctance to spend more cash than seems necessary at the start. Yet this approach is short-sighted, and the loss of morale can be much worse. Investing in security should be seen as an insurance policy – it’s a way to keep both equipment and staff safe. You wouldn’t take the risk at home so why do it at your place of work?

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