Why Specify "Access Control" in Your Construction Bids?

July 16, 2018 Matthew Ramage

Ensuring that workers are where they should be on-site may sound fundamental, but sometimes, access control barely registers as an afterthought at the estimation stage.

Jobsite security is an important safeguard against intentional or unintentional entry into potentially dangerous areas. Adequate access control is crucial to both jobsite security and worker safety. It’s certainly a priority for safety managers and those they’re trying to protect once construction begins. So, it only makes sense that jobsite security should be a priority from the outset of a construction project.

An access control system must be part of the conversation during estimating and bidding. If nothing else, inclusion in the bid puts access control on the client’s radar. And, it can be a differentiating factor if your competition isn’t highlighting it as they should be.

The bid is an authority on project priorities, and there are many reasons why access control should rank as a top jobsite concern.

 

Legal Consequences of Access Control

Access control comes down to ensuring the right people are in the right place at the right time — simple, right? Well, not exactly. When you consider all the moving parts on-site — varying clearance levels, contractor work, and even nefarious activity (to name a few) — there are more threats to security than you might think.

According to OSHA, adequate safety equipment is required in any and all instances of environmental, chemical, or radiological hazards as well as mechanical irritants. If a jobsite area meets any of these criteria, it must be controlled. If a worker enters without the correct safety equipment, the construction company could face costly litigation.

Unauthorized access has vast-reaching legal implications. Contractors, safety managers, and even the client who hired the construction company in the first place, can all take on legal obligation in the event of an unauthorized jobsite entry.

All of the above legal consequences also apply to civilian trespassing. Whether due criminal intent like vandalism or burglary, or mere curiosity, jobsite trespassing is not uncommon. This is not only dangerous for a trespasser — who would be navigating an unfamiliar work zone full of hazards — but it can be costly for construction companies in the form of legal action, and damaged, or stolen, property.

 

Worker Safety and Access Control

Worker safety should be top priority of everyone on-site. So, even more costly than litigation, is the price of worker injury. Lapses in access control have a direct connection to worker health and safety.

Despite advancements in construction industry technology, workers are still experiencing dangerous conditions at an increasing rate. BLS found that exposure to harmful environments increased 22 percent in recent years.

This is due, in part, to lack of safety equipment when entering a restricted zone. Without proper access control, workers risk unintentionally entering an area that poses any number of health threats — chemical exposure, hearing damage, head injuries or worse can occur when a worker enters an area without the correct safety equipment.

Working in construction doesn’t have to be inherently risky. For example, mitigation of common safety hazards can significantly reduce occupational risk. Overcoming prevailing jobsite hazards is more simple than you might realize: enforce strict access control, ensure workers are in the right jobsite locations, and, in effect, promote jobsite safety.

OSHA has identified four, common construction industry situations that collectively contribute to 63.7 percent of worker deaths. By reducing the prevalence of these hazards, OSHA estimates that 631 worker lives could be saved every year.  

 

OSHA calls these hazards the “Fatal Four” due to their regularity within the industry:

  • Falls — 384 annual deaths (38.7%)

  • Struck by Object —  93 annual deaths  (9.4%)

  • Electrocutions —  82 annual deaths  (8.3%)

  • Caught-in/between — 72 annual deaths  (7.3%)

    • “This category includes construction workers killed when caught-in or compressed by equipment or objects, and struck, caught, or crushed in collapsing structure, equipment, or material,” according to OSHA.

 

These statistics stand as proof that access control needs to be an industry priority. But how? Guarding areas with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) badges can help restrict entry and keep workers safe. These access points should be designated, and accounted for, during the estimation process. This way, the cost of access control is adequately accounted for before a project breaks ground.

 

The Role of the Estimator

As an estimator, you are the first line of defense against access breaches.

Use the bidding process as an opportunity to preach the necessity of access control and site security. Backed by the authority of an estimator, an access control system can become a project priority rather than something tacked on after-the-fact.

Start with a list documenting access control considerations:

  • Where — Which locations need to be restricted?

  • Why — What threats do these locations pose? What clearance level is required for entry?  

  • What — Is safety equipment necessary for entry? Are RFID badges required?

 

While this might seem like too much for any one person to keep track of, many of these considerations can be tracked through a labor management platform. An application that monitors worker location and credentials can help mitigate access errors. And, if someone happens to enter an area they shouldn’t, the application will immediately notify a safety manager who can intervene.

Through a labor management platform, worker access records can be batch uploaded, and then associated with a RFID badge to ensure restricted areas are adequately protected. Used appropriately, RFID is one of the best ways to protect restricted areas from anyone lacking proper training and documentation.

Jobsite safety is a direct consequence of access control — period. As a result, it should be a top consideration from the very beginning of a project. Including access control in a project bid ensures that it’s a priority, properly budgeted for, and establishes jobsite security as non-negotiable with clients.

Protect your project and workers from added risk by including access control in your next project bid.

About the Author

Matthew Ramage

Matthew Ramage is Trimble's Segment Manager for Asset Management and the MEP Global Marcom Director. He leads a new marketing approach for his team, specializing in inbound and content-centric marketing.

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