Warehouse Security: Keeping your customers data safe

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Security needs to be a high priority for warehouses. They have long been obvious targets for thieves. Now, they are also targets for cybercriminals. Fortunately, it is still possible to implement effective security on a tight budget.

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Here, Gavin Prior, Operations Director at Rads Document Storage, shares his tips on how to keep your customers data safe.

Keep on top of your health and safety 

Health and safety are often strongly linked with security, particularly in warehouses. Many times, actions you take to improve health and safety will often improve security. This is particularly true in warehouses. 

In warehouses, the disruption caused by health-and-safety incidents can be used as cover for security breaches. Criminals may even deliberately provoke health-and-safety incidents as a distraction. They might do this from outside or, sadly, work with your own employees. 

The threat of fire 

From a warehouse-security perspective, the main health-and-safety threat is fire. Warehouses tend to be full of combustible materials. For example, regardless of what the warehouse stores, the goods will certainly be in some form of packaging. That means cardboard/paper and/or plastic. All of these are highly combustible. 

For this reason, it is essential that all warehouses have robust fire-prevention, fire-detection and fire-response systems in place. Combustible materials should be stored appropriately. Any important paperwork needs to be kept in a fireproof box. All employees should be given relevant fire-prevention training. Smoking must be kept outdoors (that is the law anyway). 

All warehouses need to have effective smoke detectors and fire alarms. These should both be tested regularly. Ideally, they should be coupled with human monitoring. This could be through CCTV checks or human patrols. Often the most cost-effective approach is to use a combination approach. Your fire patrols can be combined with or separate from your security patrols. 

You also need a plan of action in case of fire. Again, this needs to be tested regularly. Even if it works perfectly, you need to account for the fact that people need to practice their skills. Additionally, regular practice should ensure that new employees never go long without experiencing a fire drill. 

Vet and monitor your employees 

Security starts by securing your perimeter. Your business will, however, only function if your employees can get into it. This means that you need to vet them thoroughly before you hire them. Even after you have hired them, you need to monitor their behaviour. 

The reality is that a significant percentage of problems in the workplace occur because there is a mismatch between what employers think employees are doing and what employees are actually doing. This can be, in fact often is, completely innocent. It simply reflects the fact that front-line employees can react to changes managers do not even notice. 

You, therefore, need to make a point of staying on top of what is actually happening in your warehouse. As a part of this, you need to ensure that there are clear lines of communication between employees of various levels. You may also need to work on the lines of communication between employees on the same level but in different areas. 

Managing suppliers 

In addition to all of this, you need to be prepared to manage third parties on site. Official visitors may be escorted by whoever invited them. You will, however, almost certainly have to deal with ad hoc visitors such as delivery drivers (not just the ones delivering goods). Again, you need protocols for this. 

Effective signage can play a key role here. For example, if you have a highly visible sign that clearly directs visitors to your reception, you take away an excuse for someone to wander around aimlessly. Remember that signage will need to be visible in all weathers. It, therefore, needs to have a stark contrast between the message and the background. 

Protect your perimeter 

These days, CCTV is necessary for every business. It is a vital part of security in just about all warehouses. One of the key points to remember about CCTV, however, is that it only functions effectively if given the right conditions. 

Firstly, regular CCTV cameras need plenty of light to work well. You can get “night vision” (infrared) CCTV cameras. These are, however, very niche. You would also typically need to couple them with regular CCTV cameras. The need for light also means that you need to eliminate obstructions that create blockages and shadows. 

Secondly, you need to choose the right type of CCTV camera for your conditions. Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) cameras tend to be the default option for most businesses. In some cases, however, you may need C-Mount, Dome and/or Bullet cameras instead (or also). You also need to decide if you need hardwired infrastructure or if you can use wireless cameras. 

Once you have chosen your cameras, you need to position them appropriately. This includes giving them as much protection as possible from the elements, wildlife and physical attack by humans. Last but definitely not least, you need to ensure that your CCTV system is appropriately maintained and serviced. 

Keep accurate logs 

A lot of security essentially boils down to establishing a baseline standard and then looking for changes to it. Keeping accurate logs goes a long way towards achieving both goals. In order for logs to be accurate, they need to be up to date. Ideally, they should be updated immediately when a change is made. The good news is, that technology now makes this straightforward.

In the context of warehouses, your main priorities are usually to track the whereabouts of your staff and the whereabouts of your inventory. Keeping track of staff movements can be easily managed with electronic access controls. Keeping track of inventory can be easily done with proper inventory-management software.

These two systems can effectively operate in tandem to provide maximum security. For example, if your inventory-management software highlights that an asset went missing during a certain time period, you can check who had access to its storage location during that time. 

The more frequently you check your inventory, the quicker you will notice anything that goes missing. Ideally, these measures should be supported by other monitoring systems such as asset-tagging and internal CCTV.

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About the Author: Gavin Prior

Joe Muddiman is the General Manager at Rads Document Storage, a secure facility based in Nottingham which provides professional document management services.