Warehouse security has probably been an issue ever since warehouses were invented. What’s more, the basic threats are probably much the same as they’ve always been. Thankfully, there are now more sophisticated options for combatting them.
Secure Your Perimeter
This is possibly the oldest rule in security and it still holds true today. Ideally, you will have a robust barrier around the perimeter of your warehouse with a gate to manage traffic. These days, however, that gate should ideally be an electric barrier so it can be monitored and operated remotely.
It’s best to minimize the number of gates you use so that you have fewer access points to monitor. This does, however, have to be set against the need to keep traffic flowing. This means that sometimes it’s better to have an entry gate and an exit gate.
If a site is very small then a swing-arm barrier and/or bollards might be a more practical solution than a gate. These do not provide quite the same level of security. Both can be easily bypassed by pedestrians and cyclists. They do, however, provide a high degree of security against motor vehicles.
Actively Manage Parking and Traffic Circulation
If possible, you want to have separate parking for deliveries, pick-ups, other visitors, and employees. Bathroom facilities for delivery and pick-up drivers should either be outside the main building (even if this means portaloos) or just inside the main building.
There should be obvious and well-lit routes for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. This is as much about safety as security. These routes should be kept clean and clear of any litter or debris. In autumn and winter, this may require frequent visits by maintenance staff.
Ideally, the whole of the exterior (and the perimeter) should be monitored remotely through CCTV. This is both much more affordable and much more effective than it used to be. Remember, however, that it does need to be implemented with GDPR in mind.
CCTV and GDPR
In simple terms, a person’s image is their personal information. Therefore you need their informed and voluntary consent to capture as well as process and store it. Getting consent to capture and the process is as simple as putting up appropriate signage. Just make sure that it’s put up at a point where people can backtrack easily if they do not wish to be recorded.
Even with this consent, however, you can only store the images for as long as you can show a legitimate need for them. For practical purposes, that generally means about 6 months. After this, the images must be deleted. It’s advisable to ensure that there is an automatic process for doing this.
Secure the Exterior of the Main Building
Assuming you are keeping the fabric of the building in good condition (or your landlord is), your main points of vulnerability are your windows and doors. There are plenty of window security products on the market and it is well worth investing in them.
Similarly, it’s worth investing in the best-quality exterior doors you can afford. As with gates, these should be kept to a minimum. Ideally, you should have at most two for staff (entry and exit), plus one shipping bay each for drop-offs and pick-ups. Separating these activities can make it easier and therefore faster and safer to process deliveries and dispatches.
All-access points should have appropriate access controls. In the case of staff access points that generally means keycards. You might use pin pads to control the loading bays. These could be placed on the inside if they’re only going to be operated by your staff (i.e. not by third-party vehicle drivers).
Remember To Maintain Your Security and Safety Hardware
Make regular checks on devices such as CCTV, lights, and any alarms you use. This includes safety-related alarms such as fire alarms. Not only will this give you the best chance of catching any genuine issues early, but it will also make it more difficult for people to tamper with them.
Keep Your Warehouse Organized
Modern warehouses generally contain goods, machinery, and people. These all need to be organized and, in the case of people, managed. At a basic level, goods and machinery should be kept tidily and safely and the flow of people should be orderly.
This means paying attention to basic health and safety. A lot of the principles which applied to the outside also apply to the inside. Zone your warehouse to avoid unnecessary movement. Keep it well lit and use CCTV as appropriate. Ensure it is always clean and that floors are dry.
Nowadays, you can use technology to manage goods in real-time or very close to it (depending on your budget). Warehouse management systems, mobile and/or wearable tech, RFID tagging and even drones have all taken inventory management to a whole new level of efficiency. They’ve also largely solved the problem of data going missing.
Manage Your Staff
Your staff will be too busy to act as security guards. That’s why you have security guards. They should, however, at least be aware of security policy. At best, this will allow them to recognize issues and raise the alarm. More realistically, it will take away any excuse for ignoring them. Remember, however, that training may need to be periodically refreshed.
You also need to be realistic about the fact that a lot of warehouse theft is either perpetrated or enabled by staff. Robust hiring practices will go some way to addressing this. Be aware, however, that, realistically, they only tell you whether or not someone was caught doing something they shouldn’t. That’s useful to know, but it’s not the whole story.
Once you’ve hired staff, it’s generally best to take a “carrot and stick” approach to monitoring security. Include adherence to security policies as part of your staff appraisal. If possible, find some way to reward people who demonstrate security awareness. Back this up with monitoring and route spot checks, like the good, old-fashioned walk-through.
Dealing With Suspected Thieves
Even if a worker is on a zero-hours contract, you still need to follow a clear process before you take any action against them. If you don’t, then you could end up being the one in court. It may be more pragmatic just to keep rotating staff regularly to limit their opportunities for wrongdoing.
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