How Your Overhead Doors Can Make or Break Winter Warehouse Safety
It seems as though the second Halloween ends and the calendar clicks over into November, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas and winter. Scary decorations of spooky ghosts and clever witches are taken down in favour of pine trees, bright lights, and jingle bells. You can hear old Christmas carols from years past play in every shopping centre and grocery store. The entire country seems to brighten up and look forward to a beautiful white Christmas. “Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening. A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight, walking in a winter wonderland.” While these lyrics might be comforting to a kid who’s eagerly awaiting Christmas break, they send chills down a warehouse worker’s spine. The winter season, especially up in Canada, brings dangers and complications to warehouse work. This is especially true when it comes time to load up the truck through the overhead doors. Every gust of wind brings ice cold shivers and loads of snow. Employees are forced to wear protective equipment that bulks them up and makes fine detail work difficult. Dock equipment is more likely to freeze, and even something as basic as sweat can become a serious health risk. The dock of a warehouse without the proper precautions is no winter wonderland – it’s a danger zone! This blog will take a look at the safety measures and regulations your warehouse needs to follow to minimize dangers and keep workers safe and sound. Read on for a discussion of all the biggest risk factors and how employees can protect themselves from harm.
Why Warehouses Are Especially Vulnerable to Winter Dangers
Warehouses are designed in such a way that they lack protection against cold or heat; it’s a very simple environment. When it’s cold outside, it’s cold inside. When it’s hot outside, it’s hot inside. Anyone who’s ever worked in a warehouse can testify that there’s not much protection against freezing or sweltering, depending on the season. This is especially true when it comes time to load up cargo. Overhead doors have to be open and closed countless times every day to load cargo in and out. The best doors can minimize the elemental impact by being lightning quick and giving little delays. Lesser doors will be slow and bulky, letting drifts of snow and ice cold winds inside the warehouse in bursts. There are also concerns like snow getting inside and then melting, creating a slushy, slippery, and dangerous environment. The trucks also need to maneuver through snow, and the entire process of transporting and organizing cargo is slowed down.
Employees and Equipment Alike Suffer From Cold Conditions
Winter conditions inflict more than just temporary discomfort. Cold, snow, and wind can actually cause damage to dock equipment and injure employees. Equipment can freeze up from cold wind and refuse to do its job. When a machine is exposed to the elements, it can become clogged with ice and frost. When that melts, the equipment can become damaged by water. The more exposure that equipment has to winter weather, the worse the damage will be. Before long, employers are facing high repair costs for equipment that has had enough. Employees also get worn down by winter conditions. Workers who don’t bundle up appropriately can experience frostbite and joint pain. Many conditions like migraines, allergies, or asthma become considerably worse from cold air and wind. Employees may have to take time off sick to recover from the damage. If they stubbornly try to push through the pain, the damage could become even worse and lead to injury. Overhead doors that open and close quickly are mandatory in cold weather to prevent exposure. However, they’re not the only tool that can keep employees and equipment safe.
How Careful Practice Can Minimize Damage and Protect Employees
Overhead doors make life a little easier for your employees. After you have the best doors that can open and close as quickly as possible, it’s time to consider other safety measures for your employees. Your dock equipment also deserves protection against the cold. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety offers a store of information for preventing the negative effects of cold weather. Here are some of their most useful tips for avoiding injury, pain, or equipment damage during the winter months.
Prepare Your Equipment: When the weather drops below the freezing point, cover all metal handles and bars on equipment with thermal insulating material. When purchasing new equipment, look for pieces that have been designed so that workers wearing gloves or mittens can operate them easily.
Employee Education: Make sure that your employees are aware of the symptoms of being exposed to cold weather for too long. Ensure that they are wearing the proper winter clothing and carrying out safe work practices. Set up a thermometer and suggest employees check it regularly so they have an idea of how bad the weather is and know to act accordingly. As a failsafe, enact a “buddy system” so employees can keep an eye on one another and watch for signs of hypothermia or frostbite.
Clothing Concerns: Employees should wear clothing in multiple layers, as it provides better protection and allows individual layers to be removed if necessary. Outer layers should be thicker than inner layers for the best insulation. The innermost layer should repel moisture away from the skin; look for materials such as polypropylene. Open mesh is a great choice for inner layers, as it allows moisture to dissipate, rather than cling to the skin. The outermost layer of clothing should be waterproof. 50% of body heat is lost through the head, so wear a knit cap or a wool liner under a hardhat. All of these tricks will make sure your clothing keeps you as warm as possible.
Pace Yourself: Employers should provide heated shelters where employees can take a break from the cold weather. Furthermore, employees who are working up a sweat should retreat from the cold weather. Sweat can freeze against the skin and lead to frostbite and hypothermia. When cold weather comes in through the doors, your employees should have a space safe to retreat towards.
Working in a warehouse is a tough job under the best of circumstances. Adding in snow, wind, and other winter complications can make it dangerous. It’s important to make sure you use all of the proper precautions and safety regulations to protect both your employees and your equipment. If your equipment is in need of repair or you need more information on running a safe workplace, then you need help from the experts. Call McKee-Horrigan Inc. at 1-888-244-4171 for a free quote and more information!