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Warehouses are usually cold during rainy or winter weather. This offers a set of unique challenges when it comes to performing work tasks and staying safe, especially for those who work outdoors or in unheated environments.
To stay warm in a cold warehouse, wear at least three layers of clothing, a beanie, well-insulated gloves, and footwear. It’s equally important to eat healthy, take breaks to warm up, and drink plenty of liquids. Having a warm warehouse also goes a long way in keeping everyone toasty and comfortable.
To learn more about how to keep warm in a chilly warehouse environment, read on.
Wear insulated clothing.
The idea of layering is to keep the heat you’re producing in rather than warming you up. It’s a very effective strategy of combating cold weather as opposed to wearing one heavy garment.
With layering, you can remove or add a layer or two when it gets too hot or cold. The last thing you want is to overheat and sweat. This can cause your body to lose heat very fast, increasing the risk of cold injury.
For the inner layer, opt for lightweight polyester or polypropylene weave. Synthetics can wick moisture away from your skin, keeping you drier and warmer. Steer clear of cotton as it tends to absorb moisture like a sponge, and it takes forever to dry. The wetness will leave you feeling cold and clammy.
The middle layer, also referred to as the insulating layer, should be made of fleece or wool. These materials are breathable and provide warmth even when they get wet. This layer should be more loose-fitting than the inner layer.
When it comes to the outer layer, waterproof and insulated fabrics are ideal. Opt for jackets and coats with thick woolen collars for extra warmth. They should have large pockets to stash your small working tools, documents, and other essentials needed for the job.
Be sure to stay warm and dry. Always have a set of dry clothing in case your clothes get dry.
Insulated freezer coveralls also come in handy as they protect you from head to toe. These special suits are designed for cold environments such as warehouses, refrigerated shipping, and the likes. The coverall should fit snugly around your body. Even though they are bulky, they won’t restrict your movement.
Beanies and Gloves
Your head and hands need some protection from the cold. Get a beanie that retains body heat and prevents sweating. Insulated balaclavas or freezer hoods also work just as great in keeping your head and face from numbing in sub-zero temperatures.
Well-insulated polyester gloves are great at protecting your hands. Make sure it’s sized appropriately and offers good dexterity. It doesn’t matter how well insulated the gloves are if you can’t perform the necessary activities while wearing them.
This is especially important if you deal with material handling equipment, work with tools or around metallic surfaces.
Get a pair of merino woolen socks to keep your feet nice and toasty. These fabrics are thicker and trap heat close to the skin.
Waterproof insulated work boots also go a long way in keeping your feet warm and cozy. Make sure they’re comfortable and too tight. If they are too tight or too narrow, they can restrict blood flow.
Keep in mind wearing too many pairs of socks can result in the same. A single pair of woolen socks is enough to keep your feet warm.
Take breaks to warm up.
Just like you take breaks on a normal working day, your body needs to get a break from the cold as well. The body tends to work harder in a cold environment to keep your internal temperature warm. So taking a break to warm-up increases the body’s production of heat.
You can choose to do a quick set of jumping jacks, have a snack, or a warm drink. While this might not make a big difference in terms of heat production, it goes a long way in maintaining the core temperature of your body.
Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
Eating healthy is another great defensive strategy to prevent your body from losing heat. As mentioned above, the body works harder when cold to maintain your core temp. So eating a well-balanced diet gives your body the energy and fuel it needs to combat the cold and keep you warm.
You can as well fine-tune your diet to include foods that can keep your body warmer. Adding whole grains, hot soup or stew, cinnamon, ginger, olive oil, coconut oil, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash to your meal plan can help heat up the body.
Taking hot beverages also helps you tolerate the cold better. A cup of ginger tea and hot chocolate are great warmth boosters. You should, however, avoid caffeine as it can cause your body core temperature to drop.
Don’t forget to drink water. Staying hydrated is vital to keep your body functioning while regulating the internal temp.
Employers can as well make some adjustments to keep the warehouse warm and comfortable during winter. As it’s known, temperature plays a significant role in employees’ work efficiency. So it’s essential to create a comfortable and productive work environment.
Here are simple, economical, and effective ways of helping your employees stay warm in a cold warehouse.
Seal the doors properly.
Large warehouse doors are one of the major sources of heat loss. But considering the activities and functions that are carried out there, it’s almost impossible to keep the doors closed.
The best solution is to install weather-stripping on the doors. This will stop cold drafts from entering through gaps around the doors. You can as well fit plastic sheets to barricade the doors that are frequently accessed. It will help shield everyone from drafts and cold winds and help retain as much heat as possible.
Make sure the doors are well maintained to keep it from jamming. Cold temperatures can mess with the garage door system. This can lead to difficulty opening and closing, a completely jammed door or loud noise while operating. And this, of course, is the last thing you’d want in freezing conditions. So to avoid such an awful fate, it’s crucial to keep them maintained.
Increasing airflow is particularly important during winter but can be a bit tricky. Warehouses are often huge and full of items obstructing the movement of air. So the size and blockage of airflow make it difficult to keep the inside temperature up without getting high energy bills.
Since warm air tends to rise to the highest point of the room, the cooler air lowers down where people work. This is especially true in warehouses and rooms with very high ceilings. So if you don’t improve the airflow, the nice warm air will settle at the top rather than below where workers need it most.
Improving air circulation can be as easy as getting high volume low speed(HVLS) fans. These fans are designed to push the warm air from the roof back down, where it can recirculate and warm the entire warehouse.
Another great but costly solution is installing low-profile wire shelving. The wire design allows for better air circulation. But keep in mind this option is not viable for all warehouses.
Other measures you can put in place include:
- Getting extra heaters to warm workers. Radiant heating is a great choice as it heats a specific area.
- Fit equipment handles with insulating materials.
- Train both workers and supervisors on how to detect and respond to cold stress.
- Ensure the HVAC is working at optimal conditions.
- Adequate lighting to keep productive operation. From a psychological perspective, a well- lit facility appears less cold.
- Provide heated warm-up shelters to allow employees to take breaks from frigid temperatures.
Working in cold storage temperatures is always tough. But keeping warm can help you stay well and comfortable throughout your shift.