Cold room storage is important for companies that require preservation benefits. Hiring the right employees to complete “cold room tasks” is one step closer to achieving your business goals but employers must also keep in mind the necessary safety measures that are required in these environments.
Common cold room illness
Working in low temperatures can be uncomfortable and can lead to different illnesses that may further result in poor performance:
Frostbite – Ice crystal formation on the skin and other body parts can cause permanent damage to blood vessels.
Frostnip – This is a crystal formation on the very outer layer of the skin.
Hypothermia – This fatal condition can occur when the body temperature drops to below 95F.
Chilblains – A circulatory problem, this can be caused by repeated exposure to freezing temperatures.
Immersion injury (trench foot) – The prolonged exposure to damp and freezing conditions can cause permanent damage to nerves and muscles.
Cold Room Precautions
The necessary precautionary measures will vary depending on the specific cold room operation. The safety measures that we have listed below are suggested by various UK boards such as HSE (Health and Safety Executive) and BFFF (British Frozen Food Federation).
Monitor workplace temperature
Plan the workload by monitoring the temperature and air movement in all cold work areas, on every shift, at least every four hours. Scheduling the heavy workloads during the warmer parts of the day is the better option.
Refer to the wind chill chart to determine the perceived temperature of each area:
Construct facilities or include equipment such as radiant heaters, warm plates and air jets that will help to warm the workers inside the cold room. For refrigerated rooms, a properly designed air distribution system can help to minimise air speed and reduce wind chill.
Proper work clothing and protective equipment
The appropriate clothing and equipment should be worn at all times when working in cold environments.
• Body – Wear at least three layers of clothing to provide insulation – a synthetic material for inner clothing, a wool or lofty material in the middle and a waterproof fabric for outer clothing.
• Head – A wool knit cap under a hard hat is ideal to help reduce heat loss.
• Hand – Gloves and mittens can prevent cold related injuries and maintain dexterity.
• Eye and face protection – Use eye protection that is separate from the nose and mouth. This will prevent fogging that can cause low visibility.
Proper training and healthy work practices
Workers should be educated about the symptoms of cold room related illnesses. Supervisors must also ensure an appropriate rest period for each working schedule.
These healthy practices will also help:
• Consume high-calorie food to maintain energy reserves and body heat.
• Drink plenty of warm fluids to avoid dehydration.
Safety measures can help both the employees and the company to perform safer and better operations. Implement these precautions to your cold room operations to maintain a healthy working environment for your workers.