By: John Newbury, Ramtech Electronics Limited

Should construction keep going during the Coronavirus Pandemic? It’s a highly volatile debate, and the rules seem to change every day. Critical infrastructure repair and emergency work must continue, even in major cities like Boston and Cambridge where officials have issued stop orders for most types of construction. Other cities, like New York, cite negative economic ramifications as a reason to deem all construction sites essential, and therefore many remain open.

However, it’s quite possible that most construction across the country may grind to a halt at some point. The health of workers and those they come into contact with, the continued availability or unavailability of personal protective equipment (PPE), and the logistical complications of construction material delivery when our transport systems are already overloaded with the movement of life-sustaining supplies are all in question.

Either way, one thing is clear: construction sites are vulnerable to safety risks and must be secured according to NFPA241 and OSHA guidelines during all phases of construction, even a pause. The Association of General Contractors (AGC) of Massachusetts suggests that the WES3 Enhanced Wireless Alarm System from Ramtech is an ideal fit for just such an application.

Construction sites are always susceptible to a host of threats, but a site left unattended for days, weeks, or even longer is a hotbed of danger, loss, and potential lawsuits. Consider the possibility of intruders committing theft, squatting, arson, vandalism, and other crimes. Also, the possible hazards normally on construction sites such as accumulations of flammable materials, accelerants, and unfinished electrical work remain present and can cause a fire to break out even when no one is working on site.

Hiring security personnel to patrol unattended sites is often recommended. Placing an individual that’s unfamiliar with the site; however, is neither safe nor cost-effective. The WES3 system provides a safe and efficient alternative.

WES3 is comprised of wireless units, typically placed in accordance with the site’s fire prevention plan but can be set up anywhere regardless of the current stage of construction. It’s quick and easy – it takes just a few minutes to get the system up and running to protect the site. Units can be numbered for easy identification.

The units connect to form a network so that if a fire breaks out any unit can automatically trigger a site-wide alarm. The base station pinpoints exactly where the triggering unit is located. As the primary control unit for the WES3 network, the base station enables full management and real-time diagnostics for any connected units. When coupled with REACT, all relevant personnel will be notified immediately via text message from anywhere, on site or off, if an alarm is activated. An accurate log of all system events can be downloaded via USB to allow timely reporting of on-site issues.

WES3 also offers unique and convenient features like dust-resistant smoke sensors with dual optic technology to minimize false alarms, system polling mode to provide an integrity test to confirm any additional or removed units, and full isolation system test mode to individually test alarm points without the need to trigger the entire system. WES3 can also be seamlessly integrated with third party systems including independent or permanent wired fire alarms.

Designed specifically to meet the challenging and ever-changing needs of the construction industry, WES3 units are FCC approved, covered by a full two-year manufacturer warranty, and have a three-year battery life under normal conditions and usage.

There are many preparations needed to secure a construction site that must sit unattended for an indefinite amount of time. Reducing flammables and combustibles, covering fall hazards, keeping fences and gates intact and locked, and posting appropriate signage are all vital. But surely the most important preparation is having the ability to be notified instantly when something bad happens – not after it’s too late.

As community leaders and key economic drivers, construction companies of all sizes are looking to step up right now. Setting an example by investing in top of the line safety solutions is priceless. Sometimes no news is good news, and the last news anyone wants right now is a headline about a fire or other calamity on a deserted construction site spreading and causing destruction beyond the perimeter of the site itself. That’s particularly true if the fire or event could have been avoided by having sufficient monitoring in place.

In these uncertain times, we’re all seeking peace of mind. Security is top priority. Let’s work together to keep everyone and everything as safe as possible. For more information, please visit wessafety.com.

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