How to

23 May 2016

Are You Adequately Protected at Work? - Cold Storage Warehousing

Cold storage warehouses tend to keep goods at anywhere between -18° and -30°C, making it a unique working environment, with unique considerations. There are many short and long term health risks which need to be accounted for. If you’re thinking about starting a job in cold storage, you will likely be briefed on all this, but any prior preparation is always useful.

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The most important thing is dressing appropriately, some workplaces supply gear on site, but this might not always be the case, and even if it is, having your own can often give you a distinct advantage. It’s not as simple as buying a warm coat and a woolly hat, there are specific requirements that need to be fulfilled. Visibility is important, as warehouses aren’t always necessarily the most well lit environments, and goods vehicles are likely to be moving around. Hi-vis vests like this one are one option, but many insulated coats and coveralls come with hi-vis patches as standard, here are a few examples:

Depending on what kind of work you’re going to be doing, and how cold the warehouse will be, any of those options could be applicable. In any case, you’ll be wanting to wear a base layer underneath, but if the warehouse isn’t on the lower end of the temperature scale, and you’re moving in and out of it regularly, a jacket or gilet would be a better choice, since they allow for more freedom of movement and come on and off more easily as needs be.

Cold weather working gear is always tiered depending on the levels of coldness it can withstand, so make sure you get something at least as insulated as you need it to be, if not more. When thinking about your extremities (hands and feet), the same considerations need to be made, but other practicalities also have to be taken into account. For example, gloves with a grippy surface on them are a must, since you’ll be handling goods, many of which will have developed a frosty layer on them, increasing the risk of them slipping out of your hands. Gloves like these, or those found here, are both good options.

As far as footwear is concerned, there’s an obvious need for thermal socks, but you have to be sure they provide enough mobility, as some kinds can be restrictively thick. High stretch socks such as these are always a better option, since they stay in place far more easily and you’ll be moving around a lot. With the boots, protection is just as important as insulation, as you’re more than likely going to be working with heavy goods, so a strong, steel-toed boot with a good solid layering is a must. Here are a few different options:

Finally, as far as headwear is concerned, you will be provided with a regulation hard hat. If you aren’t, it’s probably best to hand in your notice there and then, because your employers clearly have no idea what they’re doing. Hats or balaclavas aren’t essential, but cold ears are decidedly uncomfortable and can play havoc with your concentration. Headwear which is relatively thin, but made from an effective insulating weave is the ideal option here.

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop.