Warehouses and their stock are extremely valuable, and every effort should be made to provide protection against all kinds of hazards and threats; from criminal activity and accidental damage to rodent infestation, all can have very costly consequences!
Alongside the usual employers’ liability insurance and product liability cover, you will need buildings and contents cover too. This will protect your assets and stock against other dangers such as fire, theft and flooding, and will provide replacements for physical losses.
However, in the event of a fire or flood, the interruption to your business while the insurance claim is processed can be financially crippling. You will not be able to work at full capacity, if at all, and may lose staff and trade as a result. Many smaller businesses will find that, despite insurance cover, downtime such as this can result in closure.
Prevention is better than cure
So, it is essential you take steps to install protection measures to ensure your assets are safe in the event of an incident, such as a flood. Unlike fire protection, flood protection isn’t a legal requirement, but, again unlike fires, floods often come with a weather warning – so you should have time to prepare!
At Risk Areas
If you operate in an area known to be at risk from flooding, there are steps you can take to limit the chances of flood waters damaging your business:
- Firstly, sign up to receive flood warnings using the Environment Agency’s Flood Warnings Direct service.
- Raise electrical installations, sockets, fuse boxes and wiring from ground level to stop water ingress into your electrical systems.
- Invest in guards that can be fitted to external doors & covers that can be fitted to ventilation bricks, to stop water seeping through.
- Install non-return valves to drainage pipes so water does not back up into your premises.
- Raise damp-proof courses and seal floors to stop water damage.
- Install heavy duty high-rise racking so even heavy stock can be stored at height when flooding is imminent.
- Store paper records on upper levels, at height or in sealed filing cabinets.
If you choose to invest in flood protection products, ensure the products you buy are properly kite marked to show their compliance with the requirements of PAS-1188 – a quality benchmark designed and approved by the British Standards Institution (BSI) and the Environment Agency.
Forklift Trucks & Vehicles
Warehouse vehicles are essential to the efficient and productive running of your day to day operations and, as such, you will want to take steps to protect them from water or flood damage in the event of a weather warning.
Moving them to higher ground is the first logical step. Parking them on an elevated loading bay for example, will protect them from sitting in pools of water that could cause damage to the engine, hydraulics system or other features of the truck.
If your vehicle and forklift cabs don’t have fixed covers, you should invest in some – especially if you have to leave them outdoors and wet weather warnings are issued. Our advice is to invest in proper covers with ribs and guttering, not cheap vinyl alternatives.
Flood Risk Assessments
If you have risk assessors who are used to identifying areas of risk, you can utilise their skills to ensure no area of your business is overlooked. They will be able to identify and suggest practical precautions for risks that will help to keep your staff, and your business, safe in the event of flood.
The main risks here are health hazards from sewage flooding and dirty water, electrical risks from wet equipment and systems, and hazardous chemicals that could become a risk if they seep into the water.
You should draw up a ‘flood plan’, to be actioned in case of imminent flooding. This should include how you will:
- Protect staff
- Deal with hazardous equipment
- Reduce the risks from polluting materials
To find out more about how you can protect against the threat of flooding, download the government’s guide to preparing your business. If you would like to train yourself or your staff to identify risks and carry out assessments of your business, get in touch with the team at Health & Safety Training Ltd.