The warehouse loading dock is a major gateway for your company and with the constant ebb and flow of people, products and materials simultaneously arriving and leaving it’s a busy place. However, without the proper precautions taken it also can be the gateway for infestation, contamination and other unwanted visitors who are always looking for easy access to your warehouse and it’s contents and they are most pleased when you’re not being very vigilant in your prevention.
POINTS OF ENTRY – So what are their usual points of entry? Let’s begin with those innocent looking trailers backing into your dock door right now. They could be just like a Trojan horse except now hiding and transporting vermin. Have your staff routinely do a visual inspection of all trailers before unloading. Look for the usual signs of infestation like rodent droppings, bags and boxes with holes that look chewed open and any insect activity. Contamination could also come in the form of chemical or other unwanted compound so also look for spills of liquid or powder in the trailer. It’s a good safety habit to develop making sure the floor boards in the trailer are in good shape as well. If they look deteriorated or broken and not safe enough to hold a forklift immediately contact your supervisor. When a refer unit backs in you should also check that the temperature inside is at the correct level for safe transport of that particular fresh or frozen food product(s). Any foul odors should also be followed up with a closer look in the trailer as some food items will absorb these odors. Then as you off load, check the condition of the pallets themselves for broken boards, exposed nails in addition for any indications of contamination.
DOORS & WALLS – Another area of entry is the dock doors and dock levelers. When the doors are rolled down they may keep people out but can you still see any daylight coming from outside? A mouse only needs a tiny crack 2 cm in size to get in while a rat can fit through a hole as small as a quarter. Seal up all cracks and holes and use dock door brushes(>) or weather stripping to block all access. This should be accomplished for any holes or damage in the walls in your warehouse that would allow vermin entry into the warehouse. Seal them properly and to last.
As an added precaution it’s also very important to have tin cats at all entrances from the outside and throughout the warehouse. Most pest control companies do a good job monitoring the tin cats and other pest activity. Each time the trap is inspected a card inside should be dated and initialed verifying this activity. It doesn’t hurt to keep them honest and follow up by spot checking. Is the dock area kept clean? If you are currently having a pest control company visit weekly, you can save money by reducing it to a monthly visit and then having your trained staff check the tin cats the other weeks. In seasons when it gets very warm and you need a little ventilation, use of screen doors helps keep out flying insects and bug zappers in key areas also provide great backup on controlling entry.
So now that we’ve closed as many points of entry we can why leave them an invite with incentive? Any small amount of food remnants and trash not properly contained will attack any hungry animal. You don’t want find rodents having a midnight rave in your warehouse at your expense. A good idea is to put that task on a sanitation schedule, assigned to reliable people and then make sure it gets done. In addition don’t allow incoming delivery drivers sweep out their trailers at your dock unless they bag the trash and dispose in a proper designated container.
Keep the area around your loading dock clean and free of trash. Leaving cardboard and broken pallet boards to reamin on the ground is another invitation to stay and build a nest as well as becoming a magnet for other trash. How’s the flora around your warehouse? High weeds and grass provides great camouflage for the vermin invaders? Have it cut back and maintained on a regular basis. Lastly, be aware of what’s going on around your neighborhood. If there is any construction going on near by that may be displacing vermin from their homes? They will be searching for better digs and you don’t want them to give your warehouse a second look. It wouldn’t hurt to keep an extra eye on activity at your place.
Another great side benefit of employing and following these practices is improved safety. Without clutter and trash around and keeping your facility neat and organized immensely improves overall safety reducing trips and falls and other accidents.
Now that you have protected your gateway and have put your defenses in place, train the staff accordingly and remember to stay vigilant!