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Implementing a Health and Safety Program to Protect Your Self-Storage Employees and Business

You can’t be too careful when it comes to the health and safety of your most important business assets—your employees! Here are some of the most common hazards that occur on a self-storage site and how to implement a comprehensive program to mitigate risk.

Andrew Scott

March 1, 2022

6 Min Read
Implementing a Health and Safety Program to Protect Your Self-Storage Employees and Business

For a self-storage owner, the most important business asset is facility staff. When it comes to their safety, you can never be too careful. It’s your responsibility to take every precaution and protect your people, as they’re the ones who ensure the efficiency and profitability of your operation.

Studies have shown that staff feel more valued when their employer shows concern for their well-being by investing in safety. And it isn’t just good business, it’s the law. In 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed, and congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to ensure it’s enforced. The government expects all businesses to provide safe and healthful working conditions, but OSHA offers training programs, outreach, education and assistance to ensure every company has the tools to satisfy the legal requirements and keep employees alive and whole.

Let’s examine some of the common safety concerns in self-storage and why it’s important to implement a health and safety program within your organization.

Common Safety Concerns

Even the most safety-conscious employers can miss red flags at their worksites. In self-storage, there’s no shortage of potential mishaps that can occur. Some of the most common incidents include:

Falls from height. These are among the most frequent injuries, with ladder-related accidents common at self-storage facilities. Ensure you have a good ladder-safety program in place and employees follow it. It should include an equipment inspection to ensure ladders are functioning properly, training on which type of ladder to use for specific tasks, and the proper way to climb and descend.

Lifting strains. Self-storage employees also run a risk of suffering strains from improper lifting. They should be trained in proper techniques and encouraged to use equipment such as dollies, carts and wheelbarrows to move heavy items safely and more easily. Always advise your team against helping tenants with their storage items!

Slips, trips and falls. Whether during inclement weather or a bright sunny day, customers and employees can take a misstep and hurt themselves. Most accidents occur when people are simply walking around the facility. You can prevent them by placing signage where the ground may be uneven or become slippery. Though it may be difficult to dictate to customers what kinds of shoes and clothing are safest to wear on property, you can encourage employees to always be mindful of their surroundings, wear proper attire, and always have the right PPE (personal protective equipment) for the job at hand.

Lack of expertise. It’s all too common for self-storage managers to perform site maintenance that would be better handled by a professional. Staff often fall into the self-proclaimed category of “jack of all trades,” but it’s the owner’s responsibility to ensure they’re qualified to complete the tasks they’re being given. For example, any work that needs to be performed on electrical equipment, including air-conditioning units, should be outsourced to a qualified electrician. One wrong step in this area can lead to serious injury or even death.

Program Implementation

To protect your self-storage employees and maintain the profitability of your business, prioritize the creation and implementation of a comprehensive safety and health program. As the owner, you can’t overlook the financial impact of potential losses. For example, if you operate at a 10% margin, you must earn 10 times the cost of any incurred claim to cover an injury. In other words, a $10,000 claim would require you to earn an additional $100,000 in revenue to cover the cost of the claim itself and the resulting increase in workers’ compensation premium that will inevitably follow.

Your program should include:

  • A written safety manual that addresses all the risks associated with your business

  • Employee training on how to use the manual and its contents

  • Periodic inspections to ensure the worksite is being properly maintained to meet or exceed OSHA’s standards and is compliant with your state’s health and safety requirements

  • An accident-investigation process to ensure all injuries and health issues are examined and reported fully to prevent repeat incidents

A comprehensive safety manual is the most important component. Not only is it required by OSHA, it provides the platform for the successful implementation of your entire program. This guide should address all the known hazards of your operation, using real-world examples whenever possible to illustrate potential hazards and cautionary measures.

Once you’ve developed your safety manual, OSHA requires you to train employees on every safety and health concern discussed within it. Training should be conducted as part of any new employee’s onboarding and then at least once per year. Document the training for your own protection and in case of future audits. Also, perform periodic mock OSHA inspections to identify potential dangers that may otherwise go unnoticed.

Keep in mind that no matter how careful you and your self-storage employees are, accidents will happen. Conduct a thorough investigation any time an accident or near-miss incident occurs to address any shortcomings in your safety program and prevent such catastrophes from happening again.

Professional Assistance

Creating a comprehensive safety program is a big, time-consuming job, which is why many self-storage owners opt to outsource it to third-party consultants who are qualified to develop the protocols and policies necessary to protect employees and the business. If you have a small to mid-sized operation and are concerned about cost, consider hiring a professional employer organization (PEO), which can offer several helpful services including human resources, employee benefits and payroll administration in addition to providing workers’ comp insurance and expert claims management. Many PEOs that offer health and safety services also provide customized training and education in addition to site-specific procedures.

Providing your employees with a safe work environment should always be one of your top priorities as a self-storage owner. When you have the proper tools, training and preparation in place, you’ll be well-positioned to prevent workplace accidents.

Andrew Scott is the director of risk management for G&A Partners, a PEO that has helped entrepreneurs in numerous industries grow their businesses and remain compliant with state and national labor laws for more than 25 years. For more information, call 866.497.4222; email [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Andrew Scott

Director of Risk Management, G&A Partners

Andrew Scott is the director of risk management for G&A Partners, a PEO that has helped entrepreneurs in numerous industries grow their businesses and remain compliant with state and national labor laws for more than 25 years. For more information, call 866.497.4222; email [email protected].

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