By Clifford F. Lynch
If you’re feeling insecure these days, you’re in good company. For most
of us in a time of orange alerts, the prospects of terrorist attacks and
workplace violence no longer seem so remote, and this state of high anxiety is
prompting many – if not most – companies to review their security measures.
Of course, no manager can eliminate all risks to a facility, its contents and
its people. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to fling open the doors and
invite in thieves and terrorists. Whether the bigger threat is posed by the
enemy without or the enemy within, there are steps you can take to protect your
Security begins at the property line. Ideally, a distribution center is a
totally fenced environment with guard service to check all vehicles and persons
entering of leaving the property. When this is not possible, there should be
adequate lighting and a network of closed circuit television cameras that will
provide a clear view of the perimeter of all buildings. Cameras should be
monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There should be no parking against
the building except in the shipping and receiving areas: It does little good to
have a clear line of sight around a building when it is blocked by cars and
When there is no guard, be sure that every vehicle or person entering the
property checks in with a live person or video system. It is important to see
the individuals – not just hear their voices.
Ideally, closed circuit television cameras will be used inside the facility,
as well. Beyond that, all building doors, including those to the offices, should
be locked. There are any number of key card and PIN number systems that will
ensure that only those who are authorized to enter the buildings can do so.
Truck drivers, of course, will not have the necessary identification and/or
information and should be allowed entry through a limited number of doors that
open into a confined area. Here they should be registered and given only limited
access to the facility.
No receiving or shipping door should be left open at any time unless an
appropriate distribution center employee is on hand.
If the facility handles unusually expensive or vulnerable products, these
should be kept in caged areas within the building with access carefully
Securing a facility against outside intruders is relatively easy compared to
protecting a facility from the enemy within. In many areas, distribution center
labor is scarce; and companies are forced to hire personnel they might otherwise
New employees should be screened carefully. A surprising number of companies
do not perform background checks because of the expense involved. Yet this
expense is negligible if it prevents even one problem; and this is quite likely,
considering that 40 percent of all warehouse thefts are committed by employees.
Every prospective employee should have both a drug test and a background
check; and in today’s environment, integrity testing is strongly recommended,
as well. These tests, administered by companies like Reid Psychological Systems
and London House, screen for honesty, attitudes toward customer service, risk of
drug and alcohol use, and more. The tests are in full compliance with all
federal and state discrimination laws.
Finally, managers should be trained to recognize unusual or dangerous
behavior. Deterioration in attendance, work habits and relationships all are
warning signs and should be dealt with appropriately.
There is no fail-safe method for protecting your property, products and
personnel; but a well-implemented and -managed security program, thoughtful and
careful hiring practices, management training, and good common sense will go a
long way toward minimizing risks.