Beyond Security: Evaluating Self-Storage Safety Issues

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Tools. Review the facility tools and equipment used at the site by staff and tenants alike. Check that cords are not frayed and items are being handled and stored properly. This includes roll-up doors as well as locks, dollies, carts, etc.

Chemicals. Check the handling and storage methods of all cleaning supplies and chemicals used at the site. See if the MSD sheets are current and legible. Our rental agreements are generally clear about the storage of hazardous materials, but are we guilty of violating this clause ourselves? Take an inventory of the chemicals and make sure you do not have a problem fermenting unknowingly.

Physical property review. Walk your facility with a critical eye toward safety. Are there places where accidents could happen? Are traffic patterns clearly marked? Are there bollards in proper places as needed? Repairing potholes, re-striping directional arrows and adding cautionary signage can help with safety issues while adding value to the site as well. Walk the perimeter of your site, too. You might be surprised to discover graffiti, safety issues or disrepair that needs attention.

Staff training. Is your staff properly trained to handle specific incidents such as a tenant injury, natural disaster, fire or other eventualities? Make sure you have a written policy for how your staff should respond. Include staff members in your safety review of the site so they can see what you look for when you do your review. Also, make sure they have an emergency contact list of people and phone numbers, and know who and when to call. Training also needs to include how to deal with the media. Be prepared by letting employees know who the media contact person is. All inquiries should be directed to this person to avoid confusion.

Procedures for safety when making bank deposits, opening and closing the store and even when showing a potential renter the facility should be part of the new hire training for staff. In addition, employees should understand your expectations in the event of a robbery or other incident.

When a crisis arises, you want to take immediate action. So, while you are considering the security items at your site, take time now to train your staff and put a safety policy in place. Security is a good thing, but security teamed with safety is much better.

Linnea Appleby is president of PDQ Management Solutions Inc., a Sarasota, Fla.-based company that provides full-service facility management, consulting, startup services, auditing, management training and more. She is also the managing director for the Florida Self Storage Association. For information, call 941.377.3151; visit www.pdqmanagementsolutions.com.

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