Employees working in cold conditions—such as restaurant employees or warehouse workers who have to enter walk-in freezers on a regular basis—face certain threats that require proper safety procedures. Otherwise, severe bodily harm, frostbite, and even death can occur. Here are some tips to protect your employees and your company.
Understanding The Dangers
In cold conditions, there are two main threats. Frostbite usually affects the extremities, such as the hands, feet and nose. The cold actually ends up constricting blood flow, and if gone untreated, tissue can actually begin to die. In some severe cases, amputation may be necessary.
The other danger is hypothermia, which is when the body temperature sinks below 96 degrees Fahrenheit. If left untreated, internal organs can start to die and death can occur.
Protecting Your Employees
If your employees work in an environment with a walk-in freezer, it's important that you train them to take certain precautions. Some of these tips are common sense, but you should work under the assumption that employees won't understand the basics of cold safety unless you first train and inform them.
Employees need to wear appropriate clothing, including protective gloves, layers of clothing, and warm socks, especially if they end up working in a cold environment over a long period of time.
Work In Pairs
Your employees should never work alone in cold environments. If an employee starts suffering from signs of hypothermia, the other can get help or personally assist the victim.
Let Them Know The Warning Signs
Frostbite usually begins with a tingling or pain in the extremities and can progress to numbness. Hypothermia usually starts with the skin becoming pale, cold, and sometimes blue. Speech slurring may also occur. In such circumstances, it's important your employees go to warm area as quickly as possible.
Overexertion Can Be The Enemy
Overexertion can produce sweat, which can eventually freeze on to the body and quickly lead to frostbite or hypothermia. Exhaustion can also set in, which will make it harder for the body to warm itself and respond to warning signs.
Schedule Regular Breaks
Have your employees take regular breaks in a warm area. This will give them a chance to sip a warm beverage and raise their body heat before they continue working.
Perform Regular Safety Checks Throughout The Day
You should have someone check in on workers throughout the day and especially at the end of the workday. Workers have been trapped in walk-in freezers in the past, which has led to a number of tragic events.
Ultimately, worker safety should be your top priority in cold environments. Use the above tips to ensure you not only keep your workers healthy, but also avoid any liability issues that may arise from an unsafe working environment. For more more information and specifics on keeping employees safe, talk to a professional like Hy-Point Restaurant Equipment & Supplies Inc.
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