December is here, and so is the winter chill. Now, while this may be a little inconvenient for most people, making it harder to get to work and increasing their heating bill, for Warehouse Workers it can be a real worry. Winter can bring a lot of added complications and dangers to the daily work life of a warehouse operative, especially when it comes to loading up a lorry through the overhead doors on the loading bay. As suppliers of door plastic curtains, we are aware of the fact that warehouse dock's that do not have proper winter weather precautions in place, can be a danger zone.
Why Are Warehouses Vulnerable in Winter?
The way that warehouses are usually designed to be as simple as possible, meaning that they can tend to lack any built-in temperature protection - so when it is cold outside it is cold inside, and when it is hot outside it is hot inside. If you talk to anyone who has worked, or is working, in a warehouse, then they will tell you straight that there is no protection from the weather at all. This is especially the case if they work in the loading area of the warehouse, as the overhead doors will have to be opened and closed numerous times a day in order to facilitate the loading and unloading of stock.
If the warehouse is older, then it is likely that these loading bay doors will be older too and so may be slow to open and close. This means that cold wind will be able to get into the warehouse in short bursts, bringing the temperature down. If these doors also let snow and rain in it can mean that this can contribute to a dangerous environment, as they can cause slippages.
Equipment and Employees Are Also Vulnerable
Cold weather doesn't just have an impact on the temperature; it can affect your employees and any equipment you use in your business as well. Not only can mechanical equipment freeze up if the temperature drops too low, but it may also be clogged by ice or snow which will cause further damage when it melts. Obviously, the more exposure your equipment has to cold weather, the worse the damage will be, and you may be faced with costly repair bills or even have to replace the machine entirely.
Employees can also be badly affected by exposure to extreme weather too. The human body does not have very effective mechanisms to cope with extremely cold temperatures, it tends to either shiver (which increases the body's metabolism to increase heat) or limit blood flow to the skins surface, hands and feet. Prolonged exposure to the cold can cause medical conditions such as hypothermia and frostbite. Existing conditions such as asthma, allergies and migraines can also be made worse by exposure to cold air. Employees may then have to take time off to recover from these conditions, which will have an impact on your business as well.
How to Protect Your Warehouse from The Cold
If you want to keep your employees and your equipment safe this winter, there are a few steps you can take:
Invest in some Door Plastic Curtains
If you are struggling with slow opening doors in your loading bay, then the best thing to do is to invest in some PVC curtains. This is a cheaper alternative to buying some new doors and is more efficient. They allow your employees to load and unload trucks easily while keeping out the worse of the cold and wind.
Protect Your Equipment
Make sure that any metal handles or bars on equipment is covered with thermal insulating material to protect it when the weather drops. You could also purchase some gloves to help your employees to operate the machines easily in the cold weather as well.
Educate your Employees
Make sure that as part of your health and safety education you talk to your employees about the dangers of being exposed to cold air for too long, and how they can spot the symptoms early on. Think about placing a thermometer in the loading bay maybe, and getting employees to check it on a regular basis so they can spot when the temperature is dropping and act accordingly.
Provide Proper Clothing
Employees should be encouraged to dress in layers as it provides them with proper protection, and also allows them to strip layers off as appropriate. The layer closest to the skin should be a breathable layer that allows moisture to evaporate rather than cling to the skin. If moisture is left on the skin, it can freeze and lead to frostbite and hypothermia. Outer layers should be thicker, and waterproof to prevent cold liquid getting in. Wearing a hat or cap is really important as well, as 50% of heat loss from the body occurs through the head.
Giving your employees a shelter to protect them from the cold weather is always a good idea, especially if it is heated. Giving them the option to retreat from the cold weather and warm up is one way of ensuring they stay well and protected from the elements.
As you can see, working in a warehouse can be a tough job, especially when the elements are against you. Therefore, it is important to make sure you use all the available precautions to protect your employees, your equipment and your business in general.
If you would like to find out more about our range of plastic strip curtains, including our door plastic curtains, then please give us a call on 0333 999 7171 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org