Inside Self-Storage

MAY 2019

Inside Self-Storage (ISS) is an information source for industry owners, managers, developers and investors covering news, trends, facility operation, finance, real estate, construction, development, marketing, technology, insurance and legality.

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We all want to be safe, whether it's in our own home or while performing our jobs. In the workplace, it's essential for employers to create a safe, healthy environment for staff. It's equally vital that employees are aware of—and follow—safety policies and procedures. The self-storage industry isn't as dangerous as some other professions, but we must still take precautions to ensure we're providing an environment that's good for team members, tenants and visitors. The Safety Manual The first step is to develop and implement a safety manual. This will help employees understand the potential risks associated with tasks they perform. It should also outline those responsibilities they shouldn't attempt, such as electrical repairs if they aren't trained and licensed to do so. From a broad perspective, your manual should cover: • Company safety policies and programs • Rules and rule enforcement • Proper use of equipment • Proper clothing and personal protective equipment • Materials handling • General housekeeping • Emergency contacts and procedures • Location of f rst-aid kit • Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations • Employee responsibilities and roles • Documentation To develop and maintain a safe workplace, you need high safety standards. Educate new team members on your policies and procedures and establish continued education for tenured staff. Maintenance Matters Safe workplaces often employ preventive-maintenance programs. These address specific areas at specific times, drawing attention to functionality. Examples at a self-storage facility might include HVA systems, elevators, gate systems and golf carts, to name a few. Items used in everyday tasks should be routinely inspected for wear. For example, examine the ladder every time you use it. Look for anything that could put an employee in jeopardy. Is there a loose rung? Are the feet in good shape? Do you know the working capacity of the equipment? Any item that isn't functioning as intended should be repaired as quickly as possible. If necessary, assign a level of priority. For example, a unit door with faulty springs could cause injury and should be addressed as soon as possible. One of four lightbulbs in a fixture being burned out is also important, but not as critical. (It still requires fixing, of course.) With an overall property-maintenance program, you can reduce many risks and expenses. Potential Hazards Be alert to potential site hazards. By routinely walking through and inspecting your facility, you'll gain a working knowledge of what's out of place. Staff should take off their "blinders" and really look for items that might pose a risk to themselves or anyone else. Look up, down and sideways, from the frayed floor mat that's a trip-and-fall hazard to the wall corner that was hit with a cart and now has an exposed piece of sharp metal. Of course, facilities in areas with harsh winters will be exposed to additional risks. When should you salt your grounds? How many inches of snow need to fall before you plow? Are your entry points free of ice? These situations need to be addressed with thoughts of safety for all. A hazard-free environment should be the goal for every employee. Emergency Action So, you've patrolled your property and identified potential hazards; and you've addressed these items to make your facility safe. But then you have an emergency. It could be anything from a broken sprinkler pipe to a gas leak to an onsite injury. What you do next will go a long way toward limiting damage to people and property. Knowing what to do and who to call will factor heavily in the outcome. First, assess the situation—and fast. You may need to call local emergency services such as fire, police or an ambulance. You may have to call your sprinkler company or turn off the water. The possibilities are endless, so knowing what to do and acting quickly and calmly is the key to limiting further injury or damage. Once the situation is contained, focus on communication and documentation. You'll need a written incident report with pictures. Notify any superiors as well as any tenants who may be affected. Creating a safe and healthy work culture is an ongoing concern and requires the participation of all employees. Any risky conditions should be documented and communicated to the appropriate authorities. Regular training to review policies and procedures should be scheduled and mandatory, with attendance taken for accountability. By being educated and vigilant, we can all make our facilities safe for employees, tenants and guests. Jeff Fickes joined Storage Asset Management Inc. (SAM) as a store manager six years ago. He was later promoted to district manager and currently serves as regional director for the company's managed properties in the Northeast. Based in York, Pa., SAM is a property-management and consulting firm that oversees 120-plus facilities along the East Coast. For more information, e-mail jfickes@storageasset.com; visit www.storageassetmanagement.com. Key strategies for ensuring a healthy environment By Jef Fickes Making a Safe Workplace 32 ISS I May 2019 www.insideselfstorage.com

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