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Ready for Anything: Tips to Help Self-Storage Operators Improve Safety and Prepare for Emergencies

By Krista Diamond Comments

When forced to watch workplace-safety videos, so many of us roll our eyes and think the same thing: These scenarios would never happen here. Unfortunately, that logic is what causes employees to feel panicked and confused rather than calm and informed when those hypothetical events do occur.

As a self-storage operator, it’s easy to take safety for granted. After all, the industry is built on the idea of security. But when disaster strikes—whether natural or manmade—all the surveillance cameras and disc locks in the world are no match for preparedness. If you’d like to do a better job of focusing on safety, below are some ways to improve. And if you think you’re already doing enough, take a look anyway. You just might be surprised to see what procedures you’re overlooking.

Understand Why Safety Matters

Safety hazards at your storage facility affect staff and customers in different ways. A faulty ladder that leads to a fall might result in your star employee suffering an injury, missing work for a month, receiving workers’ compensation and refusing to come back due to your negligence. An icy parking lot that causes a tenant to slip could lead to a lawsuit. The bottom line is if safety is compromised, everyone—including your business—gets hurt.

Identify Worst-Case Scenarios

For this exercise, you’re going to want to turn off the glass-half-full side of your brain. Take a stroll around your property and identify everything that could go wrong. Some obvious safety hazards at a storage facility include slips and falls, vehicle accidents, and any risks inherent with storage units, such as user error with roll-up doors.

Go through “a day in the life” of both employees and tenants, thinking about the products and equipment they might use. For employees, this might include cleaning products, golf carts, moving trucks, tools and electronics. For tenants, it could be their own vehicle or a moving truck they rented from you, a lock or the storage unit itself.

Be aware that a lot of what takes place at a storage facility happens outside, so it’s important to consider environmental factors. Exposure to excessive heat (resulting in dehydration and heat exhaustion) or cold are both hazards.

Also, consider man-made risks such as crime, which can occur from external and internal sources. This isn’t just limited to burglary but includes assault, as well as tenants who store illegal items like drugs and weapons.

After thoroughly investigating your facility for present and potential risks, ask yourself: Do you have protocols in place to address your safety concerns?

Protect Staff

They say you can’t help others if you don’t first help yourself. That adage might as well be written with self-storage safety practices in mind.

Now that you’ve identified hazards at your property, it’s time to prepare. When a situation arises—whether it’s an employee who accidentally sliced his hand with a box-cutter or a tenant suffering a heart attack—having the tools to act decisively will benefit everyone. This includes literal tools like a well-stocked first-aid kit, updated emergency-contact list and safety-data sheets from the Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA). It also includes figurative tools in the form of knowledge. Knowing how to properly lift boxes, perform minor repairs and correctly service equipment will prevent many accidents.

Train Employees

Using knowledge as a tool to prevent risk sounds great in theory, but how do you impart that knowledge to your staff? It starts with training. Educate new hires in safety procedures and emergency protocol. Encourage them to ask questions, and require they pass a written safety test at the end of their training period. But don’t stop there.

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