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Keeping Track of Construction Tools: Tips and Tricks
4 Minute Read
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Tim Forestell
August 22, 2020

How to Not Lose Your Tools on Construction Sites

While theft and vandalism of construction sites and large equipment can cause project delays and have a big impact on project budgets, it’s important not to forget about the small tools on-site, too. Keeping track of construction tools can be more challenging than you’d think. Whether they’re personal tools that a contractor brings on-site or company-owned tools, it’s not unusual for hammers to go missing, screwdrivers or wrenches to be taken home for personal use, or power tools to disappear from the site. 

Whether it’s from an outside theft, or an employee “borrowing” a tool from the company or another employee – it happens. But there are ways to prevent it and help protect either the company tools or personal items.

Handheld and Personal Tools on Construction Sites

When we think about construction we often think about excavators, dozers, skid steers and other large pieces of machinery. But there is so much more that goes into construction than these big machines. Nail guns, hammers, screwdrivers, saws, and other handheld and power tools are just as valuable to the contractor as a machine is to an operator. For many finishing touches and small parts of a project, tools are necessary.

When The Company Owns the Tools

Some companies buy and own the tools for jobs. This allows the company to control who has which tool, how many tools are on-site, and to ensure that contractors have access to the proper tools to get the job done. 

With so many people using company-owned tools, it can be hard to keep track of who is using which tool when. This can create gaps where they get lost, broken or even stolen. 

How to Track Company Owned Construction Tools On-Site – Tool Tracking Tips

There are a few tips and tricks for companies or business owners to track tool use on construction sites.

1) The “Chit” System

A “chit” is a type of voucher or note that can act as a tracking system. One way to track tool use on a construction site is to provide each employee with a chit or tag. This chit can be traded in with a site supervisor in order to gain access to a tool. Since there is some kind of responsibility associated between a tool and an employee there may be more attention paid to the use and whereabouts of the hammer, saw, or whatever other type of tool it is. It also provides the site supervisor with a way to track which tool is being used by who. 

2) Site-Specific Tool Inventory

Another way to track tool use is to create an inventory for each specific job site of which machines and tools are needed and given for the project. At the end of the day, the site super or other employee would be tasked to verify that each tool has been returned and stored properly.

When Individual Contractors Own the Tools

Many companies will budget a certain amount of money for each employee to buy their own tools. This is beneficial for two reasons: 

  1. The company hands off the responsibility of tracking and looking after tools to independent employees. People can be more responsible and take care of tools more if they view them as their own. It’s easier to be reckless with something that doesn’t belong to you. 

  2. It’s easier to budget. If you allocate a certain amount a month or a year to employees for tools, that number doesn’t change. If they break a tool or lose something, then it’s up to the employee to replace it. If a company is responsible or how many employees are coming on-site, what tools they need and then replacing them wherever they go missing… the costs can add up quickly. 

Keeping Track of Your Personal Construction Tools – Tool Tracking Tips

 Since most construction tools are owned by independent contractors, most do their best to keep track of their personal tools. Some tips for keeping track of personal tools on-site include:

1) Colour Code Your Tools

Painting the handles or adding a specific colour to your tool can not only help differentiate yours from others on the site but act as a visual cue if someone is using your personal tools when they shouldn’t be. 

Nail polish is a great alternative to paint as it won’t come off with water and, if you cover it with a clear coat, shouldn’t chip easily. 

 2) Use A Toolbox to Store and Transport Tools

This tip is actually important for a few reasons. The first is to keep track of tools. The second is for safety. 

If you keep all your tools in one place and just bring the whole box with you to where you’re stationed on-site that day, the likelihood of you forgetting a tool or leaving it behind is low. If you picked up a hammer, screwdriver and a few wrenches, you may forget to grab them all at the end of the day. 

In terms of safety, objects falling from heights is a leading cause of injury on construction sites. Loose hammers could easily be kicked or pushed off a ledge by accident. If that was to fall and hit a person it could cause serious injury. Keeping all your tools in a toolbox can prevent this kind of accident on site. This point goes closely with the next one.

 3) Always Return Tools To Your Toolbox When You’re Done With Them

It’s an old lesson – put something away when you’re done with it. But, it works. 

If you return your tools back to your toolbox every time you’re done with it, then – realistically – you shouldn’t lose any. If you’re worried about someone dipping into your toolbox when you’re not around, get a little padlock to keep it closed. 

Keeping track of tools on construction sites

No one likes to think of tools being stolen on a construction site. Sometimes they’re taken without realizing that they belong to another person. Sometimes they get tucked away in another toolbox by accident. Either way, keeping track of company-owned and personal tools is an easy way to keep a site moving efficiently and on budget. Plus, it can help keep a construction site safer. 

Using these tips and track to keep track of construction tools, you can save both your company and yourself time and money.

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Tim Forestell
Tim Forestell is one of DOZR’s co-founders and CCO. Tim got started in the industry as VP Operations for Forestell Landscaping before founding DOZR with Kevin and Erin. Aside from the amazing team at DOZR, his favourite thing about DOZR are the customers. Working with DOZR renters every day gives him a peek at the evolution of different projects and hearing stories about projects being developed from start to finish.
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