Equipment Hazards and Ways to Reduce Exposure

Author, Daniel Frazee, Executive Vice President, Rancho Mesa Insurance Services, Inc.

Image of large orange tractor moving piles of dirt

The very nature of the construction business creates risk - from injuries in the course of employment, damage to property, third party liability, etc. One important area that can be overlooked is equipment security. While there is simply no way to eliminate 100% of risk to equipment, there are several steps a contractor can take to initiate proper controls and minimize losses in this area.

Managing Keys and Locks

Locks should be placed on all vehicles, storage sheds, portable equipment, and trailers. It is recommended that “high security” locks, which are pick-resistant or laminated in steel, be used in all cases. Chains should be case-hardened and thick enough to prevent cutting. Many contractors also use locking fuel caps on vehicles and passive alarm systems, for higher valued machinery, to disable equipment or sound an alarm when there is attempted theft.

Operating or Transporting Equipment

Drivers and/or operators of equipment must be screened prior to use. Requiring a valid driver’s license is a good start, but also consider asking for medical history, criminal background check, motor vehicle record, random drug screens, and sight and hearing checks. Employees should be trained properly in company safety procedures, rules, and emergency protocol. In loading or unloading situations, consider the angle of the ramp, how your employees are stabilizing the piece of equipment, placement of flags, and ensuring the ignition and brakes are locked.

Construction Site Security

Construction sites have always been attractive targets for thieves. The considerable value of equipment, product, tools, and machinery create strong appeal, particularly if that location is not properly secured. Stepping up the security at a jobsite can come in many forms but several best practice methods stand out. They include securing a specific area within the site for equipment storage. The more difficult it is for a thief to access equipment, the less motivated they will be to take the risk of accessing the site. Maintaining an equipment inventory control with photographs and “check-out” systems can be critical to holding employees accountable. Lastly, and perhaps the most logical task to improve security on a jobsite, are regular inspections. These can occur from superintendents, owners, managers, etc. This oversight shows all contractors performing work that your equipment is important and you are managing it regularly.

Fire Prevention

Managing the exposure to fuel is an important first step for preventing fire losses of equipment on a jobsite. Engaging an outside vendor to provide fueling services is always a possible solution, but may not be realistic. If the contractor is responsible for their own fueling, consider the flammability of different fuels, location of onsite fuel supplies, tank inspection, and methods for clean-up and disposal of the fuel. Regular intervals of visual inspections by the operator and any ensuing maintenance allow for easy fixes or repairs that minimize the development of bigger issues.

As the construction industry continues reaching strong post-recession levels, the use of equipment from trade and general contractors, across the board, is more prevalent. Developing a “safety net” around jobsites, pre-qualifying those using equipment, and prioritizing theft and fire mitigation lower your organization’s overall risk. Take some or all of the ideas above as your first step in integrating equipment security into your overall safety plan.

For additional information, please contact Rancho Mesa Insurance Services, Inc. at (619) 937-0164.