With hotter temperatures in the summer months, companies should be mindful of how the heat affects their employees’ health and safety; thus the material handling industry has an increased need for additional warehouse safety measures. 

Being overheated while at work can affect employees’ physical and mental capacity. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, heat stress can lead to fatigue, fainting, disorientation, and other hazards that can impact warehouse safety. 

Our team at HAWKER® has compiled a list of warehouse safety tips for the summer. Our batteries and chargers power the lift trucks, burden carriers and AGVs that help keep warehouses running efficiently. We want to ensure that our employees, as well as the employees of our customers, are practicing safe operating procedures while maintaining their health. 

Five warehouse safety tips to prepare for the summer heat


1. Cool it down 
Summer warehouse safety starts with maintaining a cool temperature in the workplace. However, with warehouses being significantly more sizeable than an office, it can be difficult to ensure that cool air is flowing properly. The first step is to consider the insulation of your warehouse. Without proper insulation, cool air will continue to escape. 

However, with proper insulation, there are a few options for cooling down a warehouse. While an air conditioning unit is the place to start, a large warehouse can have limited airflow. Another element to add to your warehouse is a system of fans. 

Industrial ceiling fans can circulate air and make a warehouse feel significantly cooler. High volume/low speed (HVLS) fans are especially effective for covering large chunks of square footage. You can also purchase or rent portable industrial fans or air conditioning units. 

2. Keep the heat out
The primary way that heat enters the warehouse is through open doors. This can become a problem when these gates and doors are left open for long periods of time, especially when they aren’t in use. Not to mention, open unattended doors affect warehouse safety for employees. 

Keep the docking doors properly sealed. Additionally, using truck shelters can keep the heat from entering. Or, utilize metal screen doors to increase airflow while still protecting from outside elements.

Another way to keep heat out is with a dehumidifier. High humidity levels in a warehouse can make it feel hotter than it really is. Dehumidifiers remove the humidity from a room, which will make the temperature feel lower. Also, dehumidifiers are a cost-effective way to fight the heat when paired with air conditioning. 

3. Prioritize your employees’ health 
Ultimately, a cool and comfortable warehouse will lead to higher morale, increased productivity, and proper warehouse safety precautions. While it can be tempting to keep your employees on a tight schedule as a means to increase performance, in the heat, it’s helpful to allow time for frequent breaks. Make sure your employees are drinking water and wearing light and comfortable clothing. 

In the long-term, you want your employees to feel appreciated and valued for their work. One way to do this is by showing that you care about their health and safety just as much as, if not more than, your company’s bottom line. Don’t be afraid to turn up the air conditioning. While energy costs are high, what’s even more costly is running the risk of work-related accidents and decreased productivity.

4. Efficient operations 
Keep the machinery in your warehouse running efficiently. This warehouse safety precaution is for every season, not just the summer. However, the summer heat paired with the friction caused by a conveyor-belt can accelerate temperatures quicker to be even higher than normal. Routinely check your conveyor-belt to make sure it’s not overheating or causing too much excess heat.

Additionally, examining your warehouse supplies and making proper inventory control will lead to better warehouse safety and productivity. Identify any areas of improvement that could increase airflow or make production easier during the summer months. 

5. Think big picture
A long-term solution for the coolness of your warehouse would be to install an energy-efficient roofing system. Certain roofing materials reduce energy costs, remain cooler, and have a longer life than a standard roof. Additionally, a damaged roofing system definitely affects the safety of your warehouse. 

Another thing you can do is to plant trees around the warehouse. Trees can shade your warehouse while preventing the exterior roofing from getting too hot. Plant trees strategically so that the warmest parts of the warehouse are covered. 

Ultimately, when it comes to warehouse safety for the summer months, consider in advance how to keep the temperature at a sustainable level that doesn’t negatively impact workflow, productivity, morale, and your employees’ health and safety. If you don’t know where to start, begin with asking your employees in the warehouse what areas they think could use improvement. 

At the end of the day, you want a reliable workforce that practices warehouse safety and is being productive on the line. Keeping your warehouse cool in the summer is the best way to show your employees that you care about them and your products being safely manufactured, moved, stored, and transported.

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