Reduce your warehouse’s risk of natural disaster damage

Warehouse construction has taken off in recent years as companies clamor to claim their space near major population hubs.

In 2017, 54.7 million square feet of warehouse space is expected to be added to the nation, according to National Real Estate Investor. But no matter how great the need for space, it’s critical that each warehouse is developed keeping the unique needs of the area in mind. Some areas are prone to earthquakes, while others, floods or tornadoes.

Miner Corp. specializes in warehouse maintenance and strives to ensure work spaces are safe for employees. By working with Miner, facility managers can be confident their spaces are both efficient and safe.

Here are some natural disasters to consider when building in the busiest commercial construction markets in the country:

Preventing earthquake damage in warehouses

Earthquakes have the potential to destroy inventory, severely damage structural features of warehouses and can cause injury or death. It’s critical that all warehouse components, big and small, are capable of holding strong during an earthquake. These natural disasters are common on the West Coast, particularly in parts of California – right where commercial construction is on the rise.

California has experienced major commercial construction growth, with 4.2 million square feet of warehousing expected to be added to the San Bernardo/Riverside area in 2017, according to NREI. Further, the most expensive development of 2016 – a $340 million trade and logistics center – was built in Oakland, California, according to Wells Fargo’s 2017 Private Nonresidential Construction Outlook.

To keep inventory secure during an earthquake, rack storage should be seismic-rated, meaning it’s been specifically tested for durability in times of ground motions often caused by earthquakes, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety explained.

Barriers on the front and back of rack shelving such as wire mesh can prevent falls during earthquakes. Additionally, more effective ground anchoring can be achieved using thicker, larger foot plates.

Warehouse racks must be bolted to the floor, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported in the Earthquake Preparedness and Mitigation Guidance for Oregon State Agency Offices and Warehouses.

The document also noted that when shelves are properly bolted, the clearance beneath them may be a safe space for workers to wait out an earthquake. If this isn’t a possibility, safe tables are also a good option.

In some cases, using double beams, doubler uprights and row spacers create additional stability. Though precious space may be sacrificed for these precautions, they will make for a safer warehouse.

Avoiding flood damage in warehouses

Flooding can cause numerous types of damage throughout a warehouse. Not only can it destroy inventory, but it can also negatively impact forklift engines, cause persistent moisture that can lead to mold growth and damage electrical systems.

This natural disaster is widespread across the U.S., though The Weather Channel reported flooding is most common in certain areas of Texas, southern California, Arizona, New Mexico and coastal areas like New Jersey. Further, major urban areas – which is also where many e-commerce distribution centers are being built – also tend to experience heightened levels of flooding.

“Warehouse fans can assist in evaporation to reduce the number of persistent wet spots.”

The first step in preventing flood damage is to keep the interior of the warehouse dry. Drainage pipes can be fitted with non-return valves, and doors and ventilation spaces can be equipped with guards – these can minimize water seeping through from the outside, according to Health & Safety Training Unlimited.

If water does get in, warehouse fans, like high velocity low speed fans, can assist in evaporation to reduce the number of persistent wet spots. Sealed floors are also less likely to be damaged during floods.

Electrical installations and fuse boxes should be elevated so there’s no chance they’ll be submerged. Also, forklifts and other vehicles at your warehouse can be stored on elevated loading bays or another lifted space can protect them from water damage.

Mitigating tornado damage in warehouses

Some of the areas experiencing the most development are also most prone to tornadoes. For example, according to U.S. Tornadoes, Texas experiences an average of 146.7 tornadoes a year; Florida, 54.6; and Illinois, 54.

Dallas and Chicago are expected to welcome 7.4 million square feet and 5.5 million square feet of warehousing in 2017, respectively. And, in 2016, a $165 million Amazon distribution center built in Jacksonville, Florida, was the second most expensive commercial construction project of the year.

A common form of damage during tornadoes is doors being ripped off, allowing high winds to enter the warehouse and cause further destruction to machinery, inventory and structural components. The Construction Specifier recommends installing doors that can withstand very high winds to avoid this problem.

Large, flat roofs are most prone to being damaged or torn from a building, according to the Inland Marine Underwriters Association. Bracing the roof can help it stay secure, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety noted. The organization also recommends investing in fasteners and ties to reinforce the connection.

It’s important to always be aware of the risks that could impact your warehouse. Be sure you’re signed up to receive severe weather alerts so you can take preventative measures before disaster strikes.

Additionally, always keep your facility in good condition to ensure total safety for your workers as well as your inventory and equipment. Reach out to Miner Corp. for regular inspections and proactive maintenance.