For many businesses across a range of industries, a cool room is an essential piece of equipment. They are regularly used in industries as diverse as food processing and manufacturing, food transport, food service and hospitality, pharmaceuticals, scientific research, health services and more.
If you operate a business that makes regular use of a cool room, it’s vital to remember that these areas are considered dangerous work environments. As a result, there are clear and strict OH&S guidelines laid out to govern the usage of cool rooms and other cold storage facilities.
But rather than trawling through the full Work Safe Victoria Safe Operations of Cold Storage Facilities Handbook, we’ve broken down cool room safety to the key points in clear and simple language.
Provide necessary training and safety procedures
One of the best ways to ensure the safety of all employees using cold storage facilities is to provide them with the necessary training needed to safely work in these environments. The type of training required will depend on a variety of factors including:
- The type of work and the level of expertise
- Hazards and risks associated with the work
- The level of supervision
- Specific risks and hazards where the work is taking place
All training should be carried out by experienced and qualified staff in full accordance with WorkSafe Victoria and all OH&S guidelines.
Provide appropriate clothing
To ensure that the safety of workers in cold storage is guaranteed, it is extremely important to provide them with the appropriate clothing. This includes boots, gloves, jackets, headwear and more.
In general terms, safety clothing should be high-visibility, durable, well fitting, zip-up insulated and water-resistant. However, the appropriate clothing may vary depending on the type of work being done, the time spent in the cold environment and the temperature of the storage facility.
Set time limits
Clear time limits need to be set for any employee working in a cold storage facility. Time limits need to include time spent working before a rest and warm-up period, as well as a maximum amount of time spent in cold storage per day.
The appropriate time limits will depend on the temperature of the cool room as well as the work being carried out. For example, while strenuous physical labour can feel like it’s warming you up, it can result in sweating, which can cause a decrease in body temperature.
Fit internal emergency alarms
Internal emergency alarms are important in any cold storage facilities. These alarms should be able to be accessed if someone is locked in or if they are unable to exit for any other reason, such as injury. Read How to Maintain a Commercial Cool Room Here
Ensure the cool room is organised
All stock inside a cool room should always be safely and properly stacked, shelved, stored and secured. Improperly organised cool rooms can result in breakages and spills, tripping hazards and the potential for stock to fall from above.
Clean up any spills
Any spills or breakages should be immediately cleaned up. Left unattended, these can create slip and injury risks.
Ensure regular cool room maintenance
Proper cool room maintenance is important not only to ensure your cool room is working efficiently, but also to identify and fix any potential safety issues. For example, proper maintenance should include regular checks of the lighting,hinges and locking mechanisms, as well as checking for any refrigerant leaks. Any issues like this could pose safety risks for those using the cool room.
Ensuring the safe and correct use of your cold storage facilities is essential for the health and safety of your employees. If these safety tips are followed, you should have no problems with your cool room.