Commercial-grade refrigerators and freezers are used in many restaurants, grocery stores and convenience stores. They range in size, anywhere from 4 feet by 4 feet to 10 feet by 10 feet, and some can even be as large as a standard size warehouse. Regardless of the size of the commercial cooling unit, it’s strongly advised that business owners and their employees are trained on worker safety for walk-in coolers. Coolers may look simple, but they pose plenty of hazards that can lead to potentially dangerous situations.
To ensure worker safety at your facility, let’s run through some of the most common workplace hazards associated with commercial walk-in coolers in Eugene, OR.
Getting trapped inside
It’s a good thing that modern walk-in cooler units are equipped with safety releases on the doors. This feature is in place to ensure an employee does not get locked inside the unit by accident. Consider the temperature in these refrigeration rooms. They range from 28 degrees to 40 degrees, while freezers can be as low as -28 degrees. In the event of accidental entrapment, a person can quickly succumb to hypothermia or sudden death. The best way to prevent accidental entrapment is to always go to the coolers in pairs or prop the door open before stepping inside.
Mold or carbon dioxide buildup inside walk-in coolers is another risk to workers. The humidity inside storage coolers should be set to 60 percent to prevent fungal growth—mold growth can begin when moisture levels reach 70 percent. And, when condensation seeps into materials like cardboard, plastic foam and wood, the mold will form and spread quickly over any inside surfaces. Make sure your employees are regularly trained to detect the symptoms of mold exposure, like sneezing, coughing, sinus congestion and a sore throat. Your team should also be informed that storing dry ice inside refrigeration units causes carbon dioxide to accumulate and can reach unsafe levels very quickly.
Falling is another serious danger workers can run into inside commercial walk-in coolers. What makes walk-ins so slippery is that condensation can turn walkways into icy surfaces, so be sure to scrape and maintain these surfaces periodically to prevent slips and falls. To protect yourself against falls while working inside walk-in coolers, wear rubber-soled shoes with good traction.
Other hazards to note
It’s freezing inside walk-in cooler units, so plan on bundling up before going inside on. Keep warm coats, wool hats, gloves and socks near the entrances of coolers. Do not overload freezer shelves with packages and products, because they can collapse under the weight and fall onto someone. Finally, use only approved stepladders to reach things that are high up to prevent injury.
Is your commercial establishment in need of refrigeration or freezer repairs or services? Call on American Refrigeration Inc. to take care of your commercial walk-in coolers in Eugene, OR. We have over two decades of experience in the field and can help you ensure your equipment is functioning at its best.