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Employee safety in walk-in coolers and freezers

Employee Safety in Walk-In Coolers and Freezers

A simple guide that aims to employee safety in walk-in coolers and freezers and on some of the health issues associated with working within this cold environment.

For the purposes of this guidance, a cold store is defined as a warehouse storing goods at temperatures below zero degrees C.

  1.       Extreme Cold. Accidentally locked in the coolers and freezers.  Employees and others may suffer leading to death or serious injury from prolonged exposure to cold temperatures if accidentally locked in the cold store. As for a safety precaution and what are things we need to do in case of this situation:
  2.     ‘No entry, Authorized Personnel only’ signs must be clearly posted.
  3.     The emergency exit is provided and with directions where and how to open the emergency exit door, daily check on the emergency exit door to ensure it is not frozen shut, door fitted with strip heaters to ensure it does not freeze.
  4.     Trapped worker alarms set up. With alarms and emergency lighting regularly tested/maintained by a competent person
  5.       When working inside the walk-in coolers and freezers. Working in such conditions employees may suffer ill health or injury (frostbites) from prolonged exposure to cold temperatures (caution particularly those who have pre-existing medical conditions). Extreme cold may also lead to a gradual loss of awareness of risk. As for a safety precaution and what are things we need to do in case of this situation:
  6. Companies pre-employment health screening with an occupational health professional
  7. Regular health check-up with an occupational health professional
  8. Trained employees in risks of working with and employee safety in walk-in coolers and freezers and to recognize symptoms of cold stress.
  9. Always wear the right personal protective equipment (according to the advice in HSE guidance and suppliers’ recommendations) issued and with coordinating training on how to use the equipment.
  10. Have a drying facility for wet PPE.
  11.       Accidental release of refrigerant ammonia. Employees and customers may suffer fatal respiratory irritation following exposure to ammonia. Exposure to even low concentrations can cause severe eye and throat irritation. As for a safety precaution and what are things we need to do in case of this situation:
  12.     Installation of vapor extractors and ventilation in the plant
  13.     Weekly and monthly high-hazard maintenance of the plant with qualified refrigeration specialists with detailed work safe systems and calibration of equipment.
  14.     Training in the risks of ammonia and its effect on health.
  15.     Creation of an emergency plan for ammonia release, including victim rescue procedures and policy for individuals, properties, and with coordination local fire service.
  16.       Comfort room with water shower for those exposed to the ammonia.
  17.       Slips and trips – employees and others may suffer injuries such as fractures on water or oil or trip over objects such as stock protruding inside walk-in closets and freezers and its gangways. As for a safety precaution and what are things we need to do in case of this situation:
  18.     Good housekeeping –clearing of the equipment’s shrinkwrap, pallet debris, strapping bands, spillages, etc promptly.
  19.     Entrance/exit doors regularly checked free from obstacles and for ice and ice deposits shall be removed.
  20.     Regularly check for damages on floors.
  21.     PPE must always be required inside the plant, wearing of safety shoes is a must.\
  22.       Falls from height – working employees on 2.5meters above may suffer severe or fatal injuries if they fall from any height.  As for a safety precaution and what are things we need to do in case of this situation:
  23.     Walk-In Coolers and Freezers: All work at heights shall be done by trained, authorized staff personnel using lifting equipment to a safe system of work.
  24.     Ladders and other height equipment shall have a control sheet and can only be used with the supervisor’s consent.
  25.     Post signs reminding staff never to climb racking.
  26.     Reminding supervisors to check safe systems of work are followed for all work at height.
  27.       Falling goods – employees may suffer injuries such as fractures and bruising from falling stock. As safety precaution and what are things we need to do in case of this situation:
  28. Report broken or dislodged pallets in racking aisles.
  29. Safe working load signage displayed.
  30.       Electricity – employees may suffer shock and burns injuries from faulty electrical equipment or installation. As safety precaution and what are things we need to do in case of this situation:
  31. Inspection of electrical installation and all equipment according to a planned maintenance schedule.
  32. Report any concerns to shift manager and maintenance crew for appropriate action.
  33.       In case of fire – If in case of fire and an employee is trapped this leads to fatal injury from smoke inhalation/ burns. As safety precaution and what are things we need to do in case of this situation:
  34.     Evacuate area and proceed with fire emergency plan
  35.     Fire risk assessment shall be done afterward

BARCO Service gives you the maintenance and repairs you need for your walk-in coolers and freezers. If you are looking for professional repair services, give us a call.