As the end of the year draws closer construction sites will be considering and planning their Christmas shutdown, giving workers a well earned break for the festive period.  For this to happen, it’s important to plan effectively as you will still have a duty of care to the inactive site.  

Unfortunately, Christmas can be the time for opportunist thieves to break in which can become extremely costly for developers and managers if the correct security precautions aren’t taken. So here’s our guide to help you successfully and safely shut down for Christmas, the longest period of closure for most construction sites.  

Conduct A Risk Assessment

To ensure that your site will be safe and secure over the Christmas shutdown, you’ll need to carry out a risk assessment and have a plan in place. Your risk assessment should cover everything from identifying potential security breaches, possible accidents and injuries and changes in weather.  You will then need to have reliable solutions for dealing with such potential issues.  

Implement Basic Security

Manning high value projects with a security guard is often a great deterrent to thieves.  They will require some basic health and safety training and be properly equipped.  They should also have access to an emergency backup, out of hours contact number should anything be a cause for concern. 

You could invest In security measures such as CCTV, video verified alarms and vacant building alarms.  Many of which can be installed quickly giving you the ability to keep a watchful eye at all times.  

Secure Tools, Equipment & Machinery

Whilst it is probably impractical and rather difficult to remove everything of value from a site, anything that can be removed should be and mobile equipment and expensive power tools should be secured in an alarmed and monitored location or stored away out of sight, preferably under lock and key. 

Keep The Site Safe

Check perimeters and fencing to identify any damage.  Ensure windows and doors to buildings and portacabins are closed and locked and nothing valuable is on display.  

Site perimeters should have appropriate signage.  Warnings about potential hazards and illegally trespassing are a sure way to deter opportunists and protect yourself should an intruder become injured on your site.   

You should also consider your lighting. Daylight hours are few over the Christmas period and adequate lighting is a good way to improve security. Motion sensor lighting is a great option as is lighting that can be activated on a timer.

Anticipate Bad Weather

The weather is also a threat to unattended construction sites.  With a high chance of rain, frost, high winds and even snow, materials and equipment can be compromised.  Implement a plan for adverse weather conditions, it’s important to ensure everything is secure and covered where necessary.  Stacked or loose items and hoardings must be left safely, the ground may need to be gritted, equipment may require protection from water and heavy machinery will require shelter.

Final Checklist 

Before leaving the construction site for Christmas there are a number of things that will need to be checked before you lock up for the festive period.  These are the final checks that should be carried out by the last person in attendance, usually the site manager:

  • Ensure all electrical sockets and power points are turned off.
  • Make sure all non-security lights are turned off at the source.
  • Ensure valuables are either removed from the site or are in the designated safe storage areas. 
  • Check all taps and water points are turned off.  You could turn off the water supply to the entire site to prevent flooding in the case of a burst pipe.
  • Close any blinds or curtains to reduce visibility, where appropriate. 
  • Lock safes and lockboxes. 
  • Lock all windows, doors and entry points.
  • Ensure security cameras are operational, if applicable.
  • Finally, lock any gates or main entry points to the building or site. 

We hope this guide has been useful. When all of the correct safety measures have been carried out, you’ll be able to head home for Christmas, safe in the knowledge that your construction site will remain safe and ready to start work in the New Year.