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Tips for Staying Warm in a Warehouse During the Winter

how to stay warm in a cold warehouseLearning how to stay warm in a warehouse can feel like an impossible task. With large loading doors opening and closing frequently during the day and night, it’s difficult to keep your warehouse – and your employees – warm during winter. This is problematic from a facility management standpoint, but it can also create a less than comfortable workspace. There are ways, however, to combat the cold in your warehouse during the winter, lower your utility bills, improve productivity, and provide a comfortable environment for your employees.

Keeping the Warehouse Warm

Adjusting expectations is the key to learning how to keep warm in a cold warehouse. During the winter, especially in colder climates, it isn’t going to be possible to keep your warehouse at a comfortable 72 degrees. Your loading bay doors will need to be open regularly, which allows cold air to come into the warehouse, keeping the temperatures low. However, there are ways that you can increase warmth in your warehouse, creating a more comfortable place to work.

1. Check the Doors

If the loading doors don’t need to be open all the time, make sure that they are closed. This is the easiest way to keep your warehouse at a more comfortable winter temperature. Doors that need to be open on a more constant basis can be fitted with plastic sheeting that will allow easy movement through the door, but provide some barrier from the elements outside. Before it gets too cold, it’s also a good idea to make sure that your loading area doors are well sealed. This will reduce drafts, making a better barrier for your warehouse when the doors are closed. Finally, make sure that your doors are maintained and the motors to lift the doors are functioning properly. This will reduce the likelihood that a door will get stuck open when the weather is poor.

2. Improve Warehouse Airflow

Airflow patterns in warehouses can be challenging. There are a lot of barriers that disrupt smooth airflow through your warehouse, and high ceilings tend to hold on to the warm air. While we typically think of using fans and other air circulating tools to cool down a space, they can be equally as useful in keeping a space warm. Improving the way air moves through your warehouse can make a substantial difference in the overall climate in your facility. There are few ways that this can be accomplished.

  • Fans – this is a relatively inexpensive way to improve airflow in your warehouse. Using high volume low speed (HVLS) fans can help move warm air through your warehouse, and pull warm air away from the ceiling. Fans are low energy, so installing fans in your warehouse will not make a significant impact on your utility bills.
  • Warehouse Layout – Look at the configuration of your space. How are the shelves arranged? Do your aisles create wind tunnels? If your warehouse layout allows cold air to move easily from the doors to the rest of the building, it may be time to consider moving things around.
  • A Shelving Upgrade – This is probably the costliest way to improve airflow. If you have solid shelving, but could convert to low-profile wire shelving, you can greatly increase the airflow in your warehouse. These shelves aren’t practical for all warehouses, but they may be a good solution in the right facility.
  • Provide Adequate Lighting – Adequate lighting is essential to maintaining rates of productivity. They also help to warm up the environment – at least psychologically. Even if you’re not using lights that put off heat, the mere act of lighting up the warehouse appropriately can make the space feel warmer and more inviting. 

3. Use More Heaters 

If you find that you have spots that are constantly cold, despite making other changes, the best solution may just be adding more heaters. New radiant heaters are highly efficient and create a good amount of heat for large spaces. Learning how to stay warm in a warehouse doesn’t require the reinvention of the wheel; sometimes, simply putting more heaters to use is all you need to keep workers comfortable. Encouraging workers to take breaks to warm up is also a good idea. 

4. Service Your HVAC System

Finally, make sure that your HVAC system is ready for the winter. Have a HVAC professional visit your facility and give your system a good tune-up and service to ensure that it is functioning as efficiently as possible. It’s a good idea to do this annually to keep your HVAC system in good working order and to prevent possible outages. 

Keeping Your Workers Warm

You’ve made the first steps to improving the climate in your warehouse. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be like working in a cozy office. Your warehouse is still going to be cooler than the rest of your facility, so it’s important that you have the right resources to help keep your employees warm and safe as well.

Educate Your Workers

Make sure that your employees are trained in how to work safely in the cold. This is especially true in facilities that have high output and keep loading doors open more consistently. Employees should know how to recognize the signs of cold stress, and there should be a facility policy about how long an employee can work in the cold. Employees should also be trained in what PPE is necessary and know what to wear in a cold warehouse so they stay warm, comfortable and can work safely.

Diet can also have a surprising impact on a person’s ability to stay warm in cold temperatures. Encourage workers to eat a balanced diet containing carbohydrates, proteins, natural fats and sugars. Staying hydrated is equally as important. Sports drinks with electrolytes are excellent options, as they keep the body hydrated and fueled throughout the day. Those eager to learn how to stay warm in a warehouse may be tempted to chug hot coffee throughout their days, but caffeine can actually make a person dehydrated. They increase flow of blood to the skin’s surface, which may actually contribute to overall loss of body heat. 

Engineering Controls

This sounds complicated but it really is quite simple. Provide your employees with places to get warm. This may be a heated office or breakroom in the warehouse, or just some good radiant heaters that they can stand near to warm up. You may also want to make sure that your employees have access to warm beverages like coffee or tea. These will warm them from the inside out.

Provide the Right Equipment

Knowing what to wear in a cold warehouse can also help to keep employees warm. There are no OSHA requirements that say you have to provide your workers with a coat, hat, gloves or ordinary winter clothing. However, as an employer, it’s in your best interest to make sure that your employees have what they need to work safely. This may mean providing a good warm coat, warm gloves, a proper winter hat, and insulated and waterproof boots. Winter wear for the warehouse may vary from person to person, but offering these options can keep folks happy. When your employees have the right equipment to do their job, be warm and comfortable, and are safe doing their job, your warehouse is more efficient and productive.

Forklift Certification for Every Environment

Learning how to stay warm in a warehouse requires some trial and error. As a facility manager or business owner, there are measures that you can take to make your warehouse more comfortable for your employees, and reduce your utility costs. Check out the training programs offered online at ForkliftCertification.com to train your workers in warehouse safety, cold stress, and OSHA compliance.

Training your employees can go a long way to promote general safety best practices in warehouses both warm and cold. Our convenient, affordable online certification process makes it easy to get employees up to speed in about one hour’s time. When you’re ready to get started, simply click here or dial 888-278-8896.

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