Warehouse Security 101

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warehouse security

If your company requires a large space to store its goods or conduct operations, you simply can’t afford to ignore the importance of warehouse security. Many business owners don’t understand just how susceptible their warehouse is to theft, fire, and other risks. A single security deficit could cost your business thousands, maybe even millions. 

Here’s a look at everything you need to know about warehouse security, from a deep dive into the factors that might be putting yours at risk, to the threats you need to watch for and the steps you can take to mitigate such problems.

Understanding Cargo Theft and Other Warehouse Risks

warehouse security

Cargo theft is a major problem in the United States, with experts estimating that the annual cost ranges from $15 billion to $30 billion. Many business owners assume such burglaries happened while items were being shipped from the warehouse to another location, but that’s not the case. Some of the biggest thefts took place in the warehouse.

Examples of major cargo thefts that happened in the warehouse include:

  • $5.7 million worth of cell phones disappearing from one in Delaware 
  • $1.5 million in missing equipment from a warehouse in California
  • $481,000 of alcohol lost in an Orlando theft
  • $527,863 in both peanuts and coffee stolen from a Georgia warehouse during a Thanksgiving Day weekend
  • $592,000 in iPhones stolen by employees from an Amazon warehouse

Theft is not the only risk impacting warehouse safety, though. Data collected by the National Fire Protection Association from 2009 to 2013 indicated that fire is something you need to consider when you’re exploring your warehouse security options. A few average figures to keep in mind:

  • 1,200 warehouse fires per year
  • 3 deaths
  • 19 injuries
  • $155 million in property damage. 

About 18 percent of these warehouse fires were intentionally set, too, indicating they would likely have been prevented had the owner invested in tougher security measures.

What’s in Your Warehouse

Different businesses keep different things in their warehouses. You might use your space for machinery setups and production operations, or you might use it to store items that are waiting to be shipped to customers around the world. That can include:

  • Grocery products
  • Agriculture supplies
  • Electronics
  • Sporting goods
  • And more

When thinking in terms of valuables that are kept in the warehouse, business owners often forget to include the employees who work there and the equipment that’s used to move and store the actual inventory. Your warehouse security system must protect everything that is both in the actual building and on the lot surrounding it.

What a Good Warehouse Security System Provides

There are a lot of warehouse security systems on the market, and there are many factors to consider when it’s time to upgrade yours. These include:

1. External theft and vandalism

Preventing external theft is surprisingly easy. The best way to discourage people from breaking into your warehouse is letting them know you have warehouse security in place. A fence that surrounds the property, a few motion-activated lights in the lot, and signs on the door that announce the presence of security cameras are usually enough to convince would-be thieves that they should direct their attention elsewhere. These same measures also discourage vandalism.

2. Internal theft

Putting a halt to internal theft is a bit more difficult. There are vast numbers of honest employees who wouldn’t dream of stealing for their employers, but all it takes is one to do a great deal of damage to your bottom line. There are a few things you can do to eliminate internal warehouse theft. 

  • Set up a warehouse security system with closed-circuit cameras.
  • Make extensive background checks a routine part of your hiring process.
  • Create a company policy that takes an instant and hard stance against employee theft.
  • Create routine cycle counts and inventory checks.

It’s also important to make sure your employees are doing well and satisfied with their work, as both factors might impact their inclination to steal. Protecting their safety is a great step in the right direction.

3. Fire prevention and protection

When it comes to fires, your main priority is prevention. The very first thing you must do is have a fire risk assessment performed. You’ll likely be surprised by all the little things, such as tweaking equipment storage and replacing fire hydrants, that can be done to significantly decrease the odds of becoming a warehouse fire victim:

  • If you store anything that increases the risk of a fire or that will cause a fire to burn hotter or faster than a normal, alert the fire department. 
  • This information ensures such teams have the right equipment and personnel on staff if a fire does break out in your warehouse.
  • Develop a fire safety plan and make sure your employees are well-versed in exactly how they should react in the event of a warehouse fire.
  • Install sprinklers and fire hydrants, plus make sure they stay in working order.
  • Add a fire watch guard to your warehouse security measures to constantly be on the lookout for small things that could trigger a fire. 
  • This person will make sure your warehouse always complies with current Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fire safety standards. 
  • Install CCTV security cameras and have a monitoring plan so staff can be alerted as quickly as possible should a fire break out, giving them ample opportunities to evacuate or take other precautions. 

Having measures in place to control the blaze increases the odds of the fire department stopping the fire before it damages all of your inventory, destroys your warehouse, and spreads to nearby buildings.

4. Employee safety

Employee safety is a key component in your warehouse security efforts. You need to take steps to make sure yours remain as safe as possible the entire time they’re on your property. Good warehouse security measures that aide in employee safety include:

  • Staying up-to-date with OSHA safety measures
  • Keeping all equipment in good repair
  • Hiring security guards who are quick to identify and defuse tense situations
  • Providing a security system that keeps employees safe while they travel from their vehicle to the warehouse

When you have a warehouse security program in place that emphasizes employee safety, you’ll find that your employees are happier and more relaxed while working. This leads to increased productivity and decreases employee turnover.

Work with a Professional Team for Your Warehouse Security

When it comes to warehouse safety, you can’t afford to be lax. You owe it to yourself as well as your business, customers, and staff to have the best warehouse security program in place — and to use practices tailored specifically to your operations. If you’re looking to review or enhance your warehouse security plans, contact the expert team at SMART Security Pros. Our staff would be happy to come to your site, hear your concerns, walk through your warehouse to identify risks and blindspots, and create a security system that will address all your concerns. Call us today to set up an appointment or speak with an expert about all of your warehouse security questions.

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