20 May 2015

Be Prepared: A Facility Safety Practice Checklist

As self storage owners and operators, we are always focused on growing occupancy and revenue. We should remember to step back a few times every year to make sure we’re providing a safe place to work and store belongings for our employees and tenants. The following checklist will help you avoiding accidents and injuries, prevent property damage, and be prepared to keep people and property safe during emergencies. Emergency Supplies to Keep on Hand: 1. List of local phone numbers for Police, Fire Department, etc. 2. First Aid Kit 3. Flashlight 4. Batteries 5. Battery Operated Radio 6. Basic Tools, including scissors and a knife 7. Duct tape, rope, or wire 8. Yellow Caution Tape 9. Camera 10. Safety Cones 11. Rock Salt or Ice Melt 12. Shovel 13. Cat Litter Avoiding Accidents and Injuries: Here is a list of the Top 5 Causes of Workplace Injuries, and tips for preventing them. 1. Overexertion – excessive lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, or throwing an object a. When lifting objects, including roll up doors, make sure to lift with your legs, not your back. b. If a door is sticking, don’t pull or push too hard on it. Get an expert to come fix it first. c. Make sure ropes hanging from door handle are in good condition, and use them to pull the door closed. d. Refrain from assisting tenants with moving, loading, or unloading of items into or out of their units. e. If an item that needs to be moved is heavy, get help and/or use a hand cart. 2. Falls – not watching where you are walking, not keeping walkways and driveways free of debris a. Check property lighting, including emergency lights, monthly b. Check property for trip hazards like trash left on drive aisles, tree roots growing through asphalt, and cracks in concrete. Repair as needed. c. When using ladders, make sure they are secure and in good condition. Make sure all four touch points are level against the ground or wall. d. Use clips on gripping shoes, like Yaktrax, on icy or snowy days. e. Do not climb on furniture or chairs. 3. Body Reaction – not bending, climbing, slipping, or tripping a. Stay alert, watch where you walk. b. Make sure restrooms and hallway floors are dry. If they are wet from cleaning, use cautionary signage or cones to raise awareness. c. Don’t run while at work. d. Keep walkways, doorways, and entrance areas free of snow and ice. e. Have contract with reputable snow removal company. f. Never lift anything if your hands are wet or greasy. g. Use cat litter or something similar to clean up and slick spills. 4. Struck by an Object – items not being stored properly and falling on you a. Use caution when using hammers or tools b. On metal roofs with a slope, adhere ice clips to the roof to prevent ice sheets from falling. c. Do not over pack shelves – keep everything neat and well organized in the office and company use storage units. 5. Repetitive Motion – repeated stress or strain a. Don’t stay in the same position for too long. Get up and move around frequently. b. If you type for long periods of time, use a wrist rest near your keypad. Avoiding Property Damage: 1. Preventing Damage from Vehicle Accidents a. Protect expensive equipment with concrete bollards; keypads, HVAC units, water pipes or gauges, glass entrances, etc. b. Place bollards about 1-2 ft. from the corners of all buildings, to prevent people from hitting the buildings with moving trucks they are not used to driving. c. Make sure any awnings, eaves, are clear to see and at a height that will not be hit by moving trucks. 2. Preventing Fires a. Explain to every tenant what items are prohibited from storing – including anything flammable, gas heaters, etc. b. In the event of an emergency or evacuation, unplug appliances and office equipment. c. Make sure nothing touches the heat sources, including paperwork and draperies. d. Make sure all people who work at the property are trained on how to use the fire extinguishers. e. Make sure all fire extinguishers are inspected annually. f. Do not take torches, lanterns, or any flames into any building. g. If you smell gas, turn off the main gas valve at the meter and open windows, if you can safely do so. Call the gas company immediately. h. Have all electrical work done by a qualified and insured electrician. i. Do not overload electrical outlets by plugging one extension cord into another. j. Use lightbulbs that are the appropriate wattage for your lighting fixtures. k. Install smoke detectors and check them frequently. l. Store flammable materials in a metal cabinet. 3. Preventing Floods a. Make sure you understand how your sprinkler system works. Many need to be flushed monthly and before any freezing temperatures. b. In the event of an evacuation or emergency, always turn off the main water valve to the property. c. Close all windows when not in the office. d. Never burn candles on the property. e. Do not permit smoking on the property – post signs and enforce the rule. f. Make sure any exterior water valves are winterized before freezing weather occurs. g. In extreme cold weather, let faucets drip slowly to keep water flowing through pipes that are vulnerable to freezing. 4. Preventing Vandalism and Theft a. Be alert to strangers loitering around the buildings. Notify police of any suspicious behavior. b. Be alert for threats made by disgruntled former employees or tenants as well. c. Be sure all doors and windows are locked after work hours. d. Keep trees and bushes trimmed low near buildings, so they can’t be used as cover by intruders. e. Keep cameras high, so they are harder for intruders to reach and cover or break. f. Require valid government issued ID for new tenants. Being prepared to keep people and property safe during emergencies: 1. In the event of an emergency at your property, call 9-1-1, and make sure everyone on the property evacuates to a safe location. 2. If possible, grab the property computer to take with you. 3. Contact your home office or property owner. They should contact the property insurance company if they expect to make a claim. 4. Use professionals to clean up and hazardous spills or damage. 5. In the case of chemicals on skin or clothing, flush immediately with water for no less than 15 minutes. Use caution when removing clothes. Seek medical attention if chemical inhalation causes headaches, nosebleeds, dizziness, or drowsiness. 6. In case of tornadoes, have a designated area to go to upon learning of a potential tornado. Ideally, in an interior room or closet in a fixed building with no windows. If caught outside, lie flat in the nearest ditch or ravine with your hands shielding your head. Be careful when emerging from shelter after the storm. 7. In case of an explosion, call 9-1-1 immediately. Assess the situation if you can safely. Watch for falling debris. Locate everyone on the premises and evacuate until more information is known. Contact your home office or owner. 8. In case of hurricane, evacuate the premises. Remove important items (like computer) before the storm and store in a safe location. Turn off power, gas, and water before the storm comes. Keep water, flashlights, radio, batteries, and a rent roll in a water proof container. Make sure any generators you have are working before the storm. 9. Do not attempt to move seriously injured people unless their lives are in immediate danger where they are located. 10. After an emergency, always fill out a detailed incident report and get full contact information for any people involved. You will forget details that may be very important to know in the future. Of course every property and situation is different, but hopefully this list will help you review procedures, supplies, and conditions at your self storage property. We recommend keeping it handy. It’s a great tool to review with new employees and every six months or so to ensure you are talking all precautions and keeping your buildings, employees, and tenants as safe as possible. .