Construction Site Shutdown Checklist

January 13, 2021

Keep your site safe and secure during project suspension with this construction site shutdown checklist.

A construction site blocked off by a barricade consisting of metal temporary fence panels installed on top of concrete jersey barriers, with text overlay that reads "Keep your site safe and secure during suspension: construction site shutdown checklist"

Demobilization and site reclamation are a required part of the project management process for any construction project in its turnover and closeout phase. Demobilization includes decommissioning or removing all mobilized items, like equipment and materials. During closeout, you may be coordinating the return of rental items, arranging to have utilities disconnected, and phasing out project staff. You’re likely also cleaning up the site by removing and disposing of any construction debris to restore the area to pre-project conditions.

The demobilization process can take weeks or even months. During this time, your site may be frequently unoccupied, leaving it vulnerable to potential thefts and vandalism. It’s important to consider site security as part of your demobilization plan, to ensure that any remaining assets are protected while they await return or removal.

Occasionally, it’s necessary to suspend project activity more rapidly. This was a common occurrence during the COVID-19 pandemic, when some provincial governments mandated the shutdown of non-essential construction sites. Of course, COVID-19 outbreaks also forced the temporary suspension of plenty of construction projects across the country.

Pandemics aside, project activity can also be impacted by things like weather, material shortages, or even design errors. Though a temporary project suspension does not require a full-blown demobilization, it can expose your site to security risks just the same.

It is crucial to have a plan in place to protect your site through periods of inactivity, whether that’s during a short-term project suspension or the demobilization at project closeout. This plan should account for properly locking down your site so that it remains safe and secure.

Here is a checklist of things you should consider when working through site security as part of a demobilization plan. A printable version of this construction site shutdown checklist is available at the end of this post.

Construction Site Shutdown Checklist

Secure Your Site Fencing

More often than not, theft is a crime of opportunity. In the construction industry, this means that sites which are remote, poorly lit, or insufficiently secured are the most attractive targets. Temporary construction fence is your last line of defence, and it’s more than likely you already have your perimeter fenced. What you need to do in the case of a site shutdown is ensure your fence is properly secured.

  1. Fence panels are sometimes removed so that trades, subcontractors, and employees can easily gain access to the site – particularly when moving large equipment. Before shutting down the site, walk the perimeter to ensure the fence line is intact.
  2. According to our friends at Radius Security, the largest-value thefts often happen near non-secured gates. Either secure gates with a chain and padlock, or barricade entrances with hoarding or jersey barriers.
  3. Consider implementing additional measures to further enhance the security of your construction fencing while your site is unoccupied. Security clamps and spike rails are visual and physical breach deterrents to would-be thieves.

Protect Your Valuables

Your “Plan A” should be to remove valuables from the site, and remind your subcontractors to do the same. However, this isn’t always possible or practical. If valuable tools, equipment, and material need to remain on site, protect them by doing the following:

  1. Move them away from the fence line, and preferably out of sight. According to Mike Baxter, Director of Sales for Radius Security, “It’s smart to deter potential trespassers by not leaving anything of value out in the open or near fence lines; even an electrical cord will look appealing for someone looking for copper!” If thieves can’t see anything worth stealing, they’re less likely to take the risk of breaking into a site.
  2. If possible, store equipment and tools in a locked shed or trailer.
  3. “Consider blocking visibility in key areas using hoarding or marketing banners on your fencing is a great option – just make sure they’re tied down,” says Mr. Baxter. If possible, add hoarding or privacy screen to your site perimeter to further block sightlines and hide your valuables.
  4. Wherever possible, immobilize your equipment so that it can’t be removed from the site – even if a thief gains access. Remove batteries or even wheels to make equipment impossible to move, and make use of cab locks and devices designed to lock out controls.

Make it Look Imposing

Visual breach deterrents can go a long way to sending thieves looking for an easier target. From low-cost solutions like signage to high-tech surveillance systems, here are some ways to make your site look more imposing:

  1. If you don’t already have it, consider adding some signs to your perimeter as part of your demobilization plan. Signage need not be beautifully designed. It just needs to communicate a few key messages, like “NO TRESPASSING”. If you have some sort of surveillance system, make it known through the use of strategically placed signage.
  2. Shed light on your perimeter. Though it seems pointless to light an unoccupied worksite, keeping lights on your hoarding or perimeter fencing will make it much more difficult for would-be thieves to go undetected, and may deter opportunistic criminals.
  3. Consider adding cameras. Though studies have yielded conflicting results about the efficacy of cameras in deterring crime, some research supports the use of cameras as a deterrent to theft. If you can afford it, get the remote guard service to go along with your surveillance system. This will ensure your site remains monitored even while it is unoccupied.If you do decide to implement remote monitoring, get your request in as early as possible. Remote guarding and surveillance companies are likely to have their hands full right now. As Mr. Baxter shared, “Make sure you check in with your security provider to arm your site for 24/h. Many of our customers have already moved to 24/7 monitoring, so it’s best to give as much notice as possible.”

Don’t Forget to Make it Safe

While it’s common to find a number of potential hazards on an active construction site, an unoccupied site can still pose a threat to safety. From thrill seekers looking to scale a crane (and potentially spurred by the boredom of social distancing!) to weather-related challenges, a demobilization plan should take into account potential risks to the public.

  1. Walk the perimeter of your site to ensure that there are no potential trip hazards caused by the bases or “feet” of your temporary fence. If you are concerned about a trip-and-fall risk, consider moving the fence line or installing safety ramps to mitigate the hazard.
  2. Secure anything that could be susceptible to the wind. That includes temporary structures and even your perimeter fencing. Making a small investment in properly securing or anchoring these structures could save you from a costly lawsuit.
  3. Set up an additional compound around the base of your crane using hoarding or a high-security fence system. Use security clamps or chains and padlocks to prevent unauthorized access to the crane.

A project suspension requires the coordination of a lot of moving parts – often in a very short time frame. Having a detailed and documented rapid demobilization plan will ensure you are ready to safely and securely lock down your site if the need arises. The tips outlined here can serve as part of a broader demobilization plan. This checklist will help ensure the security of a suspended work site, and protect you from theft and liability until work can resume or the project is fully closed out.

Download a printable version of this checklist here:
A clickable image of the downloadable PDF version of the checklist.

Author: Joanna Bieda

Joanna Bieda is the Director of Marketing and Communications at Modu-Loc Fence Rentals, and has been with the company since 2014. She loves writing and is a self-professed data nerd. She thoroughly enjoys teaching customers about all things fence via Modu-Loc's blog.

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