Security advice tends to focus on office or residential buildings, retail, or communities. But warehouses need security just as much or more. They often house high-value items and can be challenging to protect. Warehouses cover considerable square footage; people are in and out all day, sometimes around the clock on multiple shifts. High shelves full of boxes of goods make clear sightlines near impossible. How can you protect your warehouse from trespassing, vandalism, theft, and other threats?
Begin With A Security Risk Assessment
The security required to protect your warehouse can depend on size, location, inventory, and a number of other factors. Starting with an assessment can help ensure you are fully prepared for any risks that may arise. Work with security professionals to create a strategy and get buy-in.
Managers can conduct an assessment in conjunction with your internal security staff, or you can bring in an outside security provider or consultant to evaluate your current coverage and identify vulnerabilities. Consider whether you need a specialist to prepare a complete warehouse security strategy or just a second set of eyes to point out anything you may have missed and make suggestions for improvement.
Top Warehouse Security Threats And Concerns Include:
One of the most pressing issues in warehouse security is theft prevention. Theft is a far-reaching issue that can have a significant impact on your business. Perpetrators can be people who are rightfully in and out of the building all day and by those who don’t belong there. Your security plan must account for both. Warehouse theft can be blatant – thieves who break in, grab merchandise, and go, or it can be so subtle that it takes weeks or months to notice.
Warehouses typically contain large amounts of valuable inventory. Whether you move and store expensive electronics or lower-value items, your business and bottom line are at risk. Develop a security strategy that accounts for product that is easy to conceal or a common choice for employee theft. For example, employees can pocket items daily or weekly in small amounts. They may believe small thefts don’t matter and can’t see their actions’ impact over time. It doesn’t take long for a few packages of razor blades or cases of cookies to add up, particularly if multiple employees are doing the same.
Besides employee theft, such acts can also be committed by a casual thief or a highly organized ring of criminals. For example, if your product is left on a dock unsecured, a passerby could grab it and run. If your warehouse is full of in-demand, easy-to-resell merchandise, security must also be on the alert for organized groups who make it their business to steal and resell items. Your warehouse is also at risk of vandalism, tampering, sabotage, or any number of ways the building or product can be compromised as well as theft.
It’s also essential to control who comes and goes from your warehouse to ensure only those who have a reason to be there are permitted to enter and are confined to the areas where their presence is authorized. To prevent warehouse theft, you need a security solution that will both deter theft and catch thieves in the act. Ideally, this solution will be multi-pronged, including cameras, lighting, access control, and security officers.
Part of your security plan should include safety. Employees should know what to do in the event of a fire, natural disaster, or any number of other life and property-threatening weather events. Not only are people and property endangered by these events, but also thieves or other intruders can take advantage of the distractions they cause. If there is advance warning, lock up valuables and secure any doors. If you evacuate, take a headcount to ensure no one is left behind in the building unattended.
Controlling Hazardous Materials
If your warehouse stores toxic, caustic, or otherwise hazardous materials, your warehouse security must be especially stringent. Employees should also know what to do if there are dangerous materials on-site and there is a spill or a theft of hazardous or toxic items. Part of your initial is assessment should be to ensure response systems are in place and all PPE is where it needs to be because you can lose just as much to an accident with toxic materials as you can to theft.
Keep your product safe and your employees happy by ensuring that your warehouse is adequately heated and cooled to the requirements of the product and the comfort of the people. If your warehouse requires refrigeration, be sure employees are equipped with proper clothing to keep them at a safe and comfortable body temperature. Adequate temperature control can also ensure that employees aren’t tempted to open windows or doors, creating an additional security risk.
Eliminating Blind Spots
Warehouses can be difficult to secure because high shelves crowded with products can make it difficult to see from a distance what may be taking place on your property. When shelves are close together, stacked high and poorly lit, it makes it easy for someone to tuck a small, high-value item under their shirt or create an out-of-the-way stockpile of merchandise to be removed later. If an intruder gains access to your warehouse after hours, a security officer may have difficulty getting a visual of where they may be hiding within the warehouse. Evaluate whether it would be wise or even possible to reconfigure the layout of the warehouse to create optimal sightlines. Add cameras or lighting as needed to monitor or brighten blind spots. Mirrors, which are typically placed strategically to prevent collisions with forklifts and pallet jacks can also come into play to give security better sight into the whole of the warehouse environment.
What Are The Best Solutions To Improve Warehouse Security?
Depending on your security risks and needs and warehouse and inventory type, you can apply several different measures. Consider these approaches to improving warehouse security at your facility.
One of the best weapons in your warehouse security arsenal is remote monitoring. Cameras can be placed wherever you need them for a fraction of the cost of additional security officers. You can put them near high-value items. You can include infrared or motion-activated cameras that can be viewed twenty-four-seven from a central location, making it a cost-effective and thorough method of securing your warehouse.
On-site security officers can be an excellent theft and intrusion deterrent. All but the most determined thieves will want to avoid being seen and are more likely to find another place to rob. If your location contains highly desirable and easy to resell the product, they can be even more determined. Items such as electronics are easy to sell on the street or through a network of resellers. They can even be sold online or at flea markets with few repercussions. Protecting your business is a high-stakes game you must win. Station security officers at the doorway to track people coming and going. They can also patrol the property to monitor activity, investigate suspicious noises or respond to reports.
Limiting Access Points
One of the most important things you can do for warehouse security is taking control of who is entering and exiting your building and when. Require key cards for access. You can even set tiers so employees and others can only enter the areas where their presence is authorized. Cards can also be turned on and off, permitting individual entry only during working hours. Biometric entry is another option for zones requiring a high level of clearance. Fingerprint scans are growing more common, as are iris scanners where the highest level of security is required.
Preventing Unauthorized Entry
One of the simplest and most important things you can do to prevent intruders from entering or products being removed is following simple best practices such as keeping doors closed and locked and ensuring doors are not propped open. Security officers can make regular patrols to check doors but it’s important to emphasize to all employees that they should watch for unsecured doors. The safety and security of their coworkers can be at stake. If there is one particular door constantly being propped open by employees, investigate why. It tends to be a matter of convenience. For example, if employees are only thirty feet away from their cars when they leave through the propped doors but will need to travel 500 feet to reach them through the authorized doors, try to find a workaround. A long walk can consume most of a fifteen-minute break. Brainstorm to find a better solution. Solving the problem is better than punishing the infraction.
Securing Loading Docks
Warehouses are notorious for leaving dock bays wide-open. It’s common for companies with very busy loading docks to leave the doors open rather than opening and closing them forty times a day. Open doors are also a great way to let some fresh air in on a nice day. It may be just fine as long as employees are working out there to keep an eye on things or there are cameras or a security officer in place, but an empty dock with open doors is an invitation to passersby.
Proper lighting can deter theft or enable security officers or cameras to better observe what occurs in the warehouse. Look for dark areas or blind spots that could benefit from enhanced lighting. In addition to lighting, dark areas can be addressed by installing infrared cameras, which can “see” even in the darkest places. Motion-activated lights in seldom-used areas can prevent your electric bill from skyrocketing by turning on only when someone walks in (or something – it’s a great way to know when it’s time for a visit from the exterminator. Pests and rodents can also contribute to inventory shrink, although they don’t typically fall under the purview of security). Security will know when someone is where they don’t belong. If they belong there, they will have enough light to see their way.
Losses can rack up due to shrinkage – inventory that goes missing. It can be caused by theft or damage, but perhaps more frequently, human error. If an employee taking inventory marks down that a shelf contains twelve items when there are only ten, it shows up on the books at a loss. Automating inventory control through RFID scanners rather than relying on manual counts can help to reduce or eliminate human error. Automated inventory systems can also speed the check-in process, so the product is moved off trucks and out of vulnerable areas like the loading dock as quickly as possible.
Contact BOS Security
BOS Security is Atlanta’s best security company that provides professional, well-trained remote and on-site security officers warehouses, and other businesses. If you are interested in learning more about how BOS Security can protect your Atlanta warehouse or distribution center, contact us today.