November, 2007 Walk-in Cooler and Freezer Safety Keep Your Cool When It Comes to Protecting Your Workers Supermarket coolers and freezers are vital for storing perishable foods that must be kept cold or frozen. They can be very dangerous work environments due to slippery conditions, tight spaces, and the lifting and twisting required to remove product. Employees usually work alone in coolers and freezers; if someone becomes trapped inside, he or she can suffer from hypothermia, loss of oxygen, and even death. These safety guidelines will help prevent cooler and freezer accidents: Prevent or reduce condensation inside coolers or freezers. Condensation causes the floor to become wet and slippery or ice to form, leading to slips and falls. Inspect and repair door seals. Feel around the perimeter of the door for signs of cool air escaping and warm air entering. Tight seals improve cooling efficiency and reduce energy costs. Remove any ice build-up on the floor. Ice build-up should be scraped off weekly to prevent trips and falls. Post warning signs on the door to increase awareness of the floor condition. Enforce housekeeping standards in freezers and coolers. Good housekeeping is vital in preventing lifting and trip-and-fall injuries. Stockers and other employees working in coolers and freezers should be taught to maintain orderly rows and aisles; packaging, debris, and single stock items on the floor are trip-and-fall hazards. All freight should be accessed easily to prevent lifting and reaching strains. Make sure your manager includes freezers and coolers in his or her tour when checking maintenance standards. Maintain flooring surfaces and threshold plates. Repair flooring and threshold plates if they are bent, protruding upward, or uneven. Consistent maintenance helps prevent trips, falls, and strains when moving pallet jacks or carts in and out of coolers and freezers. Maintain all door latches and push knobs. Conduct periodic inspection of latches, knobs, and heat tape devices to ensure safe and proper operation. Immediately repair any broken latches or knobs to prevent someone from becoming trapped inside the freezer. Make wearing personal protective equipment (coat, gloves, and a hat) mandatory. Make a rule: Employees must tell a supervisor or co-worker when they are going to work in the freezer. Train all employees who work in the freezer or cooler for extended periods of time to observe cooler/freezer safety guidelines. Provide a designated step stool for the dairy cooler or any other freezer or cooler with high shelves. Spot check the cooler to ensure milk crates are not being used as step stools. Follow load limit guidelines for storage on top of the coolers and freezers to avoid a collapse or damage to the ceiling on the inside. Load limit guidelines are usually found on the manufacture plate attached to the cooler or freezer. If no plate is found, contact your refrigeration vendor. Shop the Grocers Safety Supply Catalog for general housekeeping and safety signs, including “Caution: Slippery When Wet,” item 200-141. For these and other safety materials go to www.grocersinsurance.com, or call 800.777.3602, extension 1622. The foregoing information is provided to help reduce the risk of insurance loss but is not intended to include all potential controls or safeguards. Insureds remain responsible for their own loss control efforts and should seek appropriate guidance specific to their operations. By providing this information, Grocers is not undertaking a duty to ensure, on behalf of you or others, that your property or operations are safe or in compliance with any law, rule or regulation.
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