Warehouse security is a top priority for any company. It’s important to be aware of the many threats that exist in warehouses, and how you can protect yourself against them. In our last article on Warehouse Security Threats: Part 1 – Theft, we reviewed internal threats, discussed identifying ways thieves might target your 3PL warehouse, and methods employed by criminals who commit acts within these facilities without permission from management. Now let’s look at some physical security measures which should help ensure no one enters unauthorized areas or causes intentional damage while working there.
Accessing the warehouse without permission.
- Break-ins and Robberies. Warehouse owners often find themselves at the mercy of outside thieves who want in and who are not afraid to take what isn’t theirs like your valuable inventory. Robberies can be very personal when employees are targeted for their money or inventory – which may put them in harm’s way if it goes unnoticed by management. Break-ins happen most often during off-hours with little human contact, thankfully. By adding security features like alarms and cameras, you can ensure the safety of your employees as well as valuable assets inside a facility.
- Lost or Stolen Identification. Stealing or losing badges is a huge problem in warehouses. While installing scannable ID cards for employees will help control who has access to your facility, it is not perfect. Unauthorized persons may still get into the building if a badge is lost or stolen. All workers should notify management immediately if this happens so that a new identification card can be issued while removing the old one from system use.
- Tag-A-Long and Courtesy Access. Tag-a-long and courtesy access are two different ways that anyone can enter your facility. Tag-a-long refers to unauthorized entry by someone following an authorized employee into the warehouse, while courtesy access is when employees open doors for those carrying equipment or with their hands full. If you have a one-badge badge scan system instead of a carousel-type gate this could be a vulnerable point in entryways because the intruder would gain access via an employee’s ID scan. Train all staff, especially new hires, on proper security policies to avoid such risky, non-compliant situations.
- Visitors. At any given time, your warehouse will host visitors. They range from customers to delivery personnel at the loading dock. All visitors need to be issued badges with limited access. This allows them to come and go as needed without causing problems or distractions for employees working in the warehouse. To curb warehouse theft, it is essential that you keep track of who comes through your facility by using a logbook. Consider an electronic logbook that creates a database that can be mined for reports.
- Emergencies, Accidents, and Malfunctions. Warehouses are often full of potential hazards. From sprinkler systems that may malfunction to computer spills, there’s never a shortage of unforeseen events in the warehouse environment. To avoid any unexpected problems with your inventory or equipment it is important you have a plan before these situations arise so they can be dealt with quickly and efficiently when needed most. Conducting regular inspections will help ensure nothing gets past you unnoticed. Adopting preventative maintenance measures ensures you are always prepared should something go wrong without sacrificing efficiency during business hours.
- Weather. We all know the weather can be unpredictable. As if it wasn’t enough to deal with natural disasters like fires, hurricanes, and tornadoes, there also are extreme temperatures that affect supply chains worldwide. Your warehouse could suffer damage in a variety of ways depending on where you are located, from fires caused by wildfire or flooding after a hurricane. Not only do these events take away precious work time but they could result in employee job loss. Having an emergency preparedness and disaster plan is key to avoiding disruption and resulting security threats.According to a study referenced in Harvard Business Review, a manufacturing or warehousing site is considered resilient if it has a functional business continuity plan that covers emergency and crisis management protocols, stakeholder communications, disaster recovery, and insurance. The study found that 80% of US sites have no business continuity plans or alternative facilities lined up to deal with operational disruptions. By talking to your customers, suppliers, and others in the warehousing industry you may be able to come up with possible backup arrangements should weather emergencies arise.
- Vandalism. Vandalism is a crime that can have far-reaching consequences. Vandals often argue their actions aren’t really harming anyone, but damaging property actually hurts people financially and emotionally. Installing security lighting fixtures with alarms attached to them and posting signs stating that your company protects its assets from would-be criminals will deter many crimes before they happen.
- Facility-directed Violence. This form of intentional destruction is more commonly referred to as ideological violence, riots, or looting. While you may not want to think that your 3PL or warehouse would be susceptible to such an act, it can happen! Ideological violence (a type of terrorism) occurs when individuals disagree with what the company represents, products carried by the business, or one choice made by the company leading them into taking violent actions against the facility. Riots could occur during global, national, or regional unrest causing millions of dollars in damage if left unchecked. It’s important to protect yourself and your employees from these crimes by taking certain measures, including consulting a security expert.
- Arson. The intentional burning of warehouses is a crime that nobody wants to see happen. To protect your facility, people, and contents, make sure you maintain safety and fire detection systems such as smoke alarms, foam fire suppression, and sprinkler systems. Install additional security lighting, signage, or cameras with alarms installed on-site near potential points of entry so they can be immediately activated if anything goes wrong. Conducting regular fire drills where everyone knows what to do and where to gather during an emergency could save lives during a crisis situation.
Violence in the workplace.
Workplace violence is an unfortunate but common occurrence in modern society. Whether it’s employee-against-employee assault, domestic violence, or even a shooting, your 3PL warehouse should be prepared for any situation that may arise.
Have a safety plan to follow just as you would for tornado drills and fire alarms so you and your employees are prepared. Put together a committee made up of employees whose responsibilities include responding to potential acts of violence and who are also able to contact authorities if necessary.
You should take any situations that could escalate further very seriously and respond with appropriate consequences for the warehouse employees. A zero-tolerance policy helps communicate to your staff that there are risks in bad workplace behavior and that employee safety is a priority, so they’ll be more likely to avoid it in the future!
Prepare for the future with updated security.
To enhance security at your 3PL or warehouse, it is important to review and update safety procedures on a regular basis. Consider installing access badge systems for employees that enter the building; maintaining fire extinguishers in all departments; ensuring sprinklers are installed throughout any area which may contain toxic chemicals – including lab-style setups. Maintaining strict security measures both inside and out protects both you and your employees from potential threats!
The following are a few cost-effective extra precautions you can take to improve warehouse security.
- Internal and external warehouse security cameras with remote (cloud) backup
- Brighter lighting for unlit or dimly lit areas
- Professional alarm system
- Security personnel and/or security checks at day’s end
- Access control systems and security cages
- Warehouse management system (WMS) software for real-time inventory tracking
- Security doors for all entrances and exits
- Electronic logging of visitors
- Window security features
- Regular insurance policy reviews
Creating a facility security checklist and knowing how to conduct an in-depth physical risk assessment are two of the most important things you can do to determine the right security solution for protecting your 3PL or warehouse.
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