Surveillance and construction sites: what you should know

Having sophisticated risk mitigation tools in place is important in any industry, but construction and contracting can call for extra measures. Significant assets, complex projects, and vulnerable worksites make construction surveillance particularly important.

According to BuildForce Canada, the construction industry accounts for 7 per cent of gross domestic product. One out of 13 workers employed in Canada earns a living in the construction industry, and the construction sector’s total employment has increased by approximately 673,000 workers since 1996.

The construction industry accounts for seven per cent of gross domestic product.

With these kinds of numbers, it’s especially important to have tools in place to prevent theft, fires, or flooding from occurring on construction sites. Here, we look at why risk mitigation tools are so important now and what to look for (and avoid) in your video surveillance package.

Why is surveillance important for construction sites?

Commercial construction sites face a number of risks every day; theft, fire, and water damage top the list. A good surveillance program can work to mitigate these risks.

A good surveillance system will include full perimeter protection, fencing, and property signage. These additions could act as deterrents for criminals, making them think twice before committing theft or arson. This system could also allow for early detection of a problem: during off-hours, emergency crews could be notified of flooding or fire from hot works much faster, which could reduce the scope of the damage, claims costs, and the impact of business interruption.

What to look for in a surveillance system

An underwriter would advise that you have full perimeter protection as part of your video surveillance package, according to Brian Mather, director of construction, contracting, manufacturing, resources and agriculture at Northbridge Insurance. There should also be proper and prominent signage, since that alone could deter a would-be criminal.

The quality of your cameras is also important. All-weather cameras with pan-tilt-zoom, day and night vision, power backup and two-way voice capability are recommended.  Insurance companies may require live monitoring via a remote monitoring station that can provide full-site video tours every 15 minutes.

Video surveillance with live monitoring is important because it typically allows for early detection that can help limit or prevent loss, whereas video recording, with no live monitoring, can only help identify the perpetrator of a crime – it can’t mitigate risk. You should also consider using a backup monitoring centre in the event that a power surge or other disruption impacts the main monitoring station.

Video surveillance with live monitoring typically allows for early detection that can help limit or prevent loss, whereas video recording with no live monitoring can only help identify the perpetrator of a crime, not mitigate risk.

Lastly, you should ensure that the surveillance company you choose can minimize service interruption by quickly repairing or replacing damaged equipment. They should also be well-connected with local first responders to mobilize an effective emergency response. Surveillance checklist screenshotGood surveillance systems often incorporate recognition analytics or software that can notify a surveillance attendant of abnormal activity.

Click here to download a printable PDF of our tip sheet on what to look for in a good surveillance system.

The other benefits of surveillance

The obvious benefit of surveillance programs (mitigating risks like theft and fire) is only the beginning – there are a number of other advantages, too.

The foreman can view all of the camera feeds through a web-based portal or an app, which may allow them to monitor the work site wherever they may be. This means they may be able to better detect internal theft, which may inspire workers to be more diligent when they’re under a watchful eye. The combination of less internal theft and more conscientious work could boost project efficiency; the money initially spent on video surveillance may just pay for itself in time saved.

Surveillance and insurance policies

In order for coverage to be triggered or less restrictive in the event of a loss, clients generally have to agree to certain warranties or conditions as laid out by their insurance company. Common conditions can include having perimeter fencing and portable fire extinguishers on hand. Insurance providers may also require that watchmen are employed or video surveillance is used outside of work hours.

At Northbridge, our Risk Services experts will often travel to your worksite to advise you on your onsite risk management measures, and to ensure that the worksite complies with insurance conditions. Visit our Risk Services page  or our Construction & Contracting Insurance page to find out more about how our experts can help your business today!