Author: Orbis Protect business development director Louis Fordham
I’ve always thought there was no stopping people in the construction industry.
Having been around the block a few times, I’d see nothing that could get in the way of the building trade. No matter what was thrown their way, once things were moving, they would find a way.
But then along came coronavirus and instead of rising through the air, everything was thrown up in the air.
No one has been immune, and the lockdown ordered by PM Boris Johnson brought to a halt activity on building sites as homebuilders have followed Downing Street’s order.
We’re in uncharted territory. I know from speaking to contacts in the building world that there’s a lot of uncertainty around.
They fear that things could get worse before they get better and that a ramped-up lockdown could herald a new wave of unsecured building sites, with even essential work put on hold.
Securing the industry’s investment
With theft from construction sites costing the sector as much as £1bn every year, they could be forgiven for being anxious because there’ll be even more at stake.
I don’t want to be alarmist but arsonists, vandals, looters, graffiti artists and trespassers will see lockdown as an opportunity rather than inconvenience.
They know there’ll be large volumes of valuable material on site including copper pipework for plumbing, cabling for electrics, boilers and radiators for heating, windows, doors and kitchens. And there’s the compound with offices complete with computers storing commercially sensitive information that must be protected.
Irrespective of size, shape and location, the owner has a duty of care – to ensure sites are secure as well as where possible wind-tight and water-tight.
That is our priority and what follows is in line with budget, insurance requirements or maybe just because a building is worth millions of pounds and needs protecting and securing in one shape or form.
Multiple security options are available – from basic alarms and CCTV to smart technology and old-fashioned guards with guard-dogs. Here as a starter for ten are a few tips;
- Update your insurer with any changes to the status of a site, a development, or a property, even if this is only partially vacant
- Assess the risks to your property/site and act on these to protect your investment
- Let commercial and residential neighbours know the site is void and ask them to be vigilant
- Add security monitoring equipment such as alarms and CCTV towers
- Set up and maintain fencing and light-timers to stop criminals
- Install warning signage
But with everything happening at a frenetic pace, there’s every chance closure might be sprung upon unsuspecting companies.
Whatever happens, that immortal line from Lance-Corporal Jack ‘Don’t panic!’ Jones. Dad’s Army rings truer than ever: Don’t Panic.
For starters, you’ve got to beware cowboy security companies and look out for British Security Industry Association (BSIA) accreditation – the security industry’s equivalent of travel’s Abta seal of approval.
As well guarding against intruders with robust measures, companies must protect themselves by dotting those i’s and cross that t’s. They have a liability with their own insurers.
Construction sites can be worth hundreds of millions so the last thing companies want is for something to go wrong and then suddenly be told by their insurers that they’re not compliant.
If someone breaks in and leaves a fire in their wake the first thing insurers will do is ask is if their own terms and conditions were followed?
If that’s not the case then they’ve got as much right not to pay out as they would if a motorist was involved in an accident after failing to get their car MoT-ed.
The devil can be in the detail. If you do what you’re supposed to do then you’re pretty much fine.
That’s where security specialists come in. They can go on site to carry out compliance risk-assessments, scrutinise the insurance policy and then make appropriate recommendations.
The insurance companies trust the specialists’ recommendations and if they fail because, for example, someone has some sneaky so-and-so has managed to get round them, then at least clients are covered. And you’ve got peace of mind. In these days, that’s invaluable.
This article first appeared on Construction News: https://www.constructionnews.co.uk/agenda/opinion/avoiding-insurance-problems-with-locked-down-sites-24-04-2020/
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