Security Tips & Checklist for Warehouses & Distribution Centres


By James Cavendish, freelance writer.

Warehouses and distribution centers are exposed to several risks, ranging from workers' injuries to theft to fires. Based on recent stats, slips, trips, and falls are the top causes of warehouse injuries, followed by lifting, pulling, pushing, or reaching. Data also shows that warehouses are the most common location for cargo thefts.

So, should business owners and managers sit back and passively accept these risks in their warehouses and distribution centers? Of course not. In this article, we will provide you with some practical tips to neutralize or minimize such negative occurrences.

Ensure your warehouse and distribution center workers are properly trained.

The first step to ensure your workers remain safe is to train them on how to minimize injuries and other risks.

Among other things, the warehouse and distribution center employees must be instructed on the following:

  • using proper lifting techniques
  • wearing protective gear such as glasses and steel-toe boots
  • handling hazardous materials
  • safely operating forklifts and other machinery
  • using ergonomic tools that can reduce the strain on workers' bodies
  • responding quickly and effectively to emergency situations

In addition to offering the initial safety training, employers should also provide regular refresher courses to solidify and improve workers' knowledge of security issues.

Comply with OSHA safety standards and guidelines

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established standards and guidelines to ensure workers' safety in warehouses and distribution centers.

For example, you should always inspect racks and shelves for damage before using them, which helps prevent accidents due to structural failure or instability. Moreover, all loads should be stable and properly secured to avoid any potential hazards.

The OSHA also mandates that workers always use personal protective equipment (e.g., gloves, hard hats, steel-toed boots, safety glasses, etc.)

Another factor you should take into account is heat illness. Employers must provide employees access to water, shade, and other cooling measures.

Finally, hazardous chemicals must be stored according to OSHA regulations in order to protect workers from potential exposure.

Install the right warehouse signage

Warehouse signs have multiple benefits. They can help direct traffic, warn workers of hazards, provide valuable instructions, and facilitate organizational tasks. Moreover, they should also be used to identify hazardous areas and indicate emergency exits.

Other purposes served by warehouse signage include indicating load capacity on racks or shelves and providing instructions on how to operate machinery or handle materials safely.

These signs can significantly increase employee safety by reducing the events leading to injuries and other accidents.

Tailor your video security systems to your needs

Video cameras are crucial to prevent or collect evidence of theft, vandalism, and other criminal activities your warehouse and distribution centers may be exposed to. Your video security system must be tailored to the needs of your facility. This refers both to the type of cameras you should use and to their location.

CCTV cameras with motion detection and facial recognition capabilities can be beneficial in identifying potential intruders and feeding useful data to video analytics software.

Infrared cameras are also useful, as they can work in complete darkness and help you monitor outdoor areas. The same goes for thermal imaging security cameras, which can detect heat signatures of people or vehicles from long distances.

As for the location of your cameras, they must be placed in strategic spots to monitor the entire facility and cover any doors or access points. It's crucial to avoid any blind spots, as criminals can easily exploit them.

You should also consider using cloud-based video cameras, as they allow you to access footage from anywhere and on any device, thus increasing the level of monitoring.

Make sure only authorized individuals can access the premises

Another way you can ensure the safety of your warehouse or distribution center is by implementing access control measures to ensure that only authorized personnel can enter the premises.

The most basic types of access control measures involve using PINs and fobs that are issued specifically to the facility's workers. Recently, it's become common to use smartphone apps as digital credentials, thus minimizing costs and eliminating the risk associated with the loss or theft of physical credentials.

More advanced forms of access control solutions include facial recognition and multi-factor authentication procedures (MFA).

Schedule regular audits

A security audit helps identify potential weaknesses in the system and allows you to take proactive steps to address them. It's essential to schedule audits regularly in order to ensure that security measures are up-to-date and working properly.

Audits should be comprehensive and include a review of workers' safety protocols, access control solutions, video monitoring systems, emergency plans, and any other safety measure implemented at your warehouse or distribution center.

Security Checklist

  1. Install video cameras in strategic locations to monitor activity in the warehouse.
  2. Implement access control systems to ensure only authorized personnel can access the warehouse.
  3. Regularly inspect the warehouse for any signs of damage or wear and tear.
  4. Ensure all aisles and open areas are clear and open for easy navigation through the warehouse.
  5. Inspect racks for any signs of damage or instability that could cause accidents or injuries to personnel.
  6. Check the lighting in the warehouse to ensure it is adequate for safe navigation throughout the facility.
  7. Maintain hygiene and cleanliness standards throughout the warehouse to prevent contamination of products or equipment.
  8. Establish fire safety protocols such as fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and emergency exits in a fire emergency.
  9. Ensure all personnel have been trained on proper safety procedures when handling hazardous materials or operating machinery in the warehouse environment.
  10. Ensure that all employees are wearing proper safety gear, such as hard hats, protective eyewear, gloves, etc., when necessary while working in the warehouse environment.
  11. Conduct regular inspections of machinery and equipment to make sure they are functioning properly and safely.
  12. Implement an inventory management system to track goods entering and leaving the facility.
  13. Perform background checks on new hires before allowing them access to sensitive areas within the facility.
  14. Establish an open-door policy so employees can report any suspicious activity without fear of repercussions from management.

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