In the first part of this series, Warehouse Security Threats: Part 1 – Theft, we discussed the importance of warehouse security and how to protect your business against potential theft. In this second part, we will look at physical security measures that you can take to further safeguard your warehouse. These measures include installing security cameras, using alarm systems, and other safety measures. By taking these precautions to improve warehouse security, you can help ensure that your warehouse is safe from unauthorized access and theft.
Assaults in the Workplace
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), workplace assaults resulted in 20,050 injuries and illnesses involving days away from work and 392 fatalities in 2020. Violence is actually the fifth leading cause of death in the workplace, with the deadliest incidents involving an active shooter. This alarming statistic should not be ignored by any warehouse or 3PL.
Examples of on-the-job violence in a warehouse can include criminal intent, customer or client, worker-on-worker, and domestic, which typically targets women. Managers and safety professionals at every workplace should develop a policy on violence that includes:
- Staff training
- Developing an emergency action warehouse security plan
- Conducting mock training with local law enforcement
- Adopting a zero-tolerance toward workplace violence and assaults.
Of course, there is no way to know if or when an assault could take place in your warehouse, however here are some behavioral signs to look out for:
- A decline in job performance and/or unexplained absenteeism
- Withdrawn, depressed, or makes comments about suicide
- Resistance to change and accusations of unfair treatment
- Evidence of excessive drug or alcohol abuse
- Non-compliance with company policies
- Severe emotional or mood swings
- Paranoid delusions
It is important to be alert and pay attention to your warehouse employees. Encourage them to report any situations that could be a warehouse security risk to their supervisor or management. It could end up saving lives!
Intentional Damage or Destruction of Property
There are many ways to protect your warehouse, people, and contents from fires being set maliciously; aka arson. Make sure your warehouse security includes safety systems like foam suppression or sprinkler systems. Don’t forget about alarm buttons or additional lighting near potential points of entry so they can be activated if anything goes wrong.
Lead your warehouse security safety team to prepare employees for emergency situations by executing practice drills and evacuation instructions. Be sure to include an outside location for evacuation meet up to account for all employees on site. Being prepared with fire warehouse security measures can and will save lives if an emergency were to arise.
Posting signs notifying would-be vandals of warehouse security systems and installing security lighting fixtures with alarms attached to them will deter many crimes before they happen. It’s important to note that vandalism has far-reaching consequences. Those who commit the crimes often say their actions aren’t really harming anyone but rather just hurting property. This is far from the truth as property destruction leads to heavy emotional stress and financial losses.
Violence Against Your Physical Warehouse
Intentional destruction of your physical warehouse is often considered ideological violence. This type of attack more commonly comes in the form of riots or looting and can occur at any time with little warning. Warehouse security measures often overlook this threat form. It’s important that every warehouse, 3PL, or distribution center treat this threat with high priority, regardless of what you think might happen in the near future.
This type of terrorism occurs when certain individuals disagree about what the company represents, products carried by the business, or choices made by management, leading them into taking violent actions against the facility. It could lead to millions of dollars of damage if it happens. It’s important to protect yourself AND your employees from these crimes by consulting a security expert on warehouse security who’ll help set precautions and protocols.
Unapproved Facility Access
Theft or Loss of Secure Entry Badge
If someone steals or loses an employee’s badge, it can become a big headache for warehouse security and is a cause for alarm. Scannable ID cards are a great way to control facility access, however, it is not infallible because activated badges still allow access to the warehouse. It is important to inform your workers that they should notify management immediately if this threat to warehouse safety happens so that new employee IDs can be issued while deactivating old badges’ access.
Robberies or Unlawful Entry
Owners are in danger of being robbed when they let their guard down on 3PL or warehouse security. Robberies can happen at any time, especially during off-hours with little human contact. However, unauthorized access for a robbery doesn’t always happen when a facility is closed which can put employees in danger’s way whether it is for company property or employee personal items.
Alarms and/or cameras should be installed and monitored so you can be notified of a situation and for documentation of a crime afterward. Be sure you have a warehouse security plan in your company policy so employees are aware of proper procedures to take in case of a break-in.
Visitors will come to your warehouse more often than one might expect. Whether they are customers, delivery personnel, or personal guests they all need to be tracked through a visitor logbook and issued badges limiting access to protected areas. An electronic logbook will create databases for reports to keep track of who was visiting and what type of visit each person had. This information can help your warehouse better manage warehouse security measures and resources, and identify the employees responsible for a particular visit while protecting your facility, employees, and inventory.
Holding the door open for someone and a person ‘sneaking’ in behind you are two different ways that unauthorized people can enter your facility. Someone can follow an authorized staff member into the warehouse without their knowledge. An employee could unwittingly hold the door open for someone who – by design – has their hands full carrying equipment or even a box of donuts and a cup of coffee! If your warehouse security includes a one-badge scan system instead of a carousel gate this could be a vulnerable point in entryways. It is important to train all staff on proper security policies to avoid such non-compliant situations.
The weather is unpredictable and can cause a variety of problems for your warehouse or 3PL. Natural disasters like fires, hurricanes, or tornadoes take away precious work time while also risking employee job loss if your facility suffers damage. To avoid disruption during these times it’s important that you have emergency preparedness plans along with a disaster relief agenda so downtime will be minimal.
You may think that your company’s supply chain is safe from the effects of climate change, but according to a recent study by Harvard Business Review. Nearly 80% percent have no alternative facilities lined up or emergency business plans in case a disaster strikes. The study suggests that a manufacturer, 3PL, or warehouse will quickly recover if it has a functional business continuity plan.
A business emergency plan going forward should cover crisis management protocols, supplier and customer communications, disaster recovery, and insurance. Be sure to communicate with your customers, suppliers, and other leaders in the warehousing industry to plan for any possible weather-related risks.
Accidents, Equipment Failure, or Urgent Situations
Hazards are a given in any warehouse. Employees could spill beverages on critical tech equipment, a facility’s sprinkler system could malfunction, or security systems could crash affecting the entire building and rendering quite a bit of damage. In order to circumvent any unexpected damage to your inventory or equipment it is important that you have warehouse security system policies and plans in place.
Regular equipment and policy adherence inspections can aid your warehouse’s physical security. Be sure your company makes preventative maintenance a priority to thwart future issues. Preventative maintenance is usually a given in any facility but may be pushed on the back burner if other priorities arise.
Update Warehouse Security for the Future
With today’s threats to public safety, it is more important than ever for 3PLs and warehouses to review security procedures regularly. Consider installing access badge systems so that only employees with appropriate clearance are able to enter the building and make sure each department has its own fire extinguisher available with appropriate training. Metal detectors or weapons detection systems should also be considered on a location-by-location basis. It is critical to maintain strict entry requirements both inside AND out by hiring reputable employees and working with trustworthy vendors.
Quick list of security additions to consider:
- Install entrance security doors
- Log all visitors electronically
- Fortify any windows with extra security
- Review warehouse insurance policies on a regular basis
- Make alarm panic buttons readily available to employees
- Add internal and external security cameras with cloud backup
- Install brighter lighting
- Install a professional alarm system or upgrade as needed
- Install weapons detection systems
- Hire security guards and/or perform security checks at the close of business
- Limit access with control systems and security cages
- Use warehouse management system (WMS) software for inventory tracking
In order to protect your company from physical risks, it’s important to develop a facility security checklist and know how to conduct an in-depth physical assessment of your warehouse or 3PL.