Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design for Construction Projects

October 12th, 2021 | By Michelle Binkewicz, Branch Sales Manager, SENTRIFORCE
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design for Construction Projects

Applying Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design to Your Construction Project

Most general contractors and builders understand the crucial value that safety programs bring to their bottom line but often don’t realize the significant potential and synergy that a security plan for the construction site can bring. There is a natural convergence with a well thought out safety program and a site security plan.

Theft and loss are a costly gamble to take in this volatile environment of high material costs, shortages of supplies, and tight labor markets. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the National Association of Fire Marshall’s office, construction theft data shows:

• $1 billion a year industry, as reported through insurance companies. Given the fact that a typical deductible for a general contractor is $20,000+, and the average reported theft value is less than $7,000-$10,000, this number is closer to $1.5 to $2 billion annually.

• 1,000 commercial equipment products are reported stolen every month in America.

• 2-3% of the total value of a project is estimated to be at risk for theft/loss.

• Gangs target new construction projects to mark “their” territory, as well as individuals known as taggers.

• An estimated 4,800 construction site fires occur each year and the cause of 71% of these are arson.

When a construction company is designing a security plan and program to help reduce the impact of this loss, a starting point is crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED). CPTED is a concept developed originally for law enforcement officers and city planners or anyone involved in designing neighborhoods, schools, downtowns, buildings, or revitalization efforts. It is an effective way of fighting crime by changing the way we utilize our environment.

“The proper design and effective use of the built environment can lead to a reduction in the fear of crime and to an improvement in the quality of life”- Dr. Ray Jeffrey, FSU Criminologist

In other words, the physical environment can shape behavioral patterns, which is what we strive to do with safety programs AND if we have a security plan in place, we can affect a change and reduce loss. The most important foundation with a security plan is that we create an awareness of security and loss prevention on a construction project and embed this awareness into the culture of the organization and associated trades. While CPTED principles are predominately leveraged by city planners, architects and community leaders, if we view our construction site as a “micro-city,” we can adopt the main principles of CPTED and decrease the opportunity for loss and risk. The major principles of CPTED are: natural surveillance, natural access control, territorial re-enforcement, activity support and maintenance of the property.

Natural Surveillance means that people can see what others are doing, thereby deterring “would-be” offenders. Technology can be used to enhance this principle. How can we leverage this principle on a construction project?

• Remove un-scheduled or non-retained planted vegetation from the construction site as soon as possible.

• Keep “clear lines of site,” as best as possible, by reducing the number of material storage locations.

• Avoid the creation of “blind” areas of the project with materials or machinery. • Ensure the site has appropriate and plentiful lighting at night throughout the site, not just entrances.

• Keep construction waste cleared regularly.

Natural Access Control is the physical and symbolic barriers that can be used to attract, channel or restrict the movement of people or vehicle traffic, and in turn minimize opportunities for crime. How does this translate to a construction site?

• Utilize correct and complete fencing or barriers around the construction property (minimum of six (6) feet in height, but eight (8) feet is preferred). • Create “choke points” for traffic flow (vehicle or human) and have gates for access to the site which are tightly controlled.

• Fence off the material lay-down area or Conex storage area or creating interior access controls.

• Restrict certain areas to only “approved” contractors on an “as-needed” basis. • Have contractors/trades park in a designated area only on the project or park off site.

• Have a formal site check-in process for all subcontractors and visitors.

Territorial Re-enforcement is the principle that drives people towards a sense of ownership or interest in a place or location. It relies on the users of the space feeling that they have ownership of that space and this ownership is announced with clarity. This can be achieved on a construction project through:

• An expression of landscaping, fencing, textures, pavement and boundaries that clearly define and declare the separation between public and private property.

• Installation of signage, specifically a “no trespassing or restricted area” message, which also declares the potential penalties if violated.

• Lighting should be throughout the entire site, and should light any “blind” areas of the project.

Activity Support and Maintenance is the thought that community awareness and information sharing, or community interaction promotes both observation and a reporting platform for criminal activity. Additionally, a well-maintained building or community creates a sense of ownership and tends to make someone feel like they will be observed by customers, pedestrians, neighbors or business owners because of the obvious care about the property. This principle can be seen by:

• Get to know the neighboring properties owners or personnel.

• Invite local law enforcement onto the job-site and ask them to make a daytime presence often.

• Rapid repair of damage to fencing or any abatement of graffiti.

• Ensure that the construction site is organized and regularly maintained, which denotes an air of concern and care.

By implementing several of these measures, a general contractor can create a desired layered plan which can reduce your risks on your job site and effectively manage how your project is being secured and managed. Suggested best practices:

• Establish a written security program/policy for your company.

• Encourage security awareness among all employees and trade.

• Announce the importance to all trades of your commitment to the site security.

• Establish a cooperative communication with adjacent or neighboring properties to exchange information and add an extra set of eyes.

• Utilize technology, such as monitored video surveillance, to enhance traditional security measures.

• Require prompt reporting of criminal incidents, loss, and vandalism.

• Maintain complete records of all security incidents on the site, for review when updating security policies and procedures for future projects.

Theft, crime, vandalism, vagrancy, and accidents will continue to be on the rise in all areas of construction. As a general contractor you need to approach site security with the same sense of importance as site safety programs. If you take a stand and announce the importance of it, a behavior modification can occur. Your trades, who suffer the front-line loss when it happens, will be thankful for the stance you take.

Applying Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design to Your Construction Project

By Michelle Binkewicz, Branch Sales Manager, SENTRIFORCE

For more information on video surveillance solutions and how it can help your construction jobsite, contact us today.

Share This Article: