The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is known for its strict regulations designed to keep workers safe from workplace accidents and injuries. Not only does OSHA create regulations for almost every industry imaginable, but they also enforce the consequences of not following them.
Simply put, OSHA tends to be the final word on health and safety guidelines in the workplace. Even though it is a United States agency, its regulations and research are respected around the world.
You might expect that such a widely respected organization known for strict regulations would have a comprehensive set of guidelines for warehouse temperatures. Surprisingly, the guidelines are simply to keep people safe from harm.
Today, we’re going to dive into exactly how your organization can abide by OSHA’s less-than-specific guidance regarding warehouse temperatures.
What are the OSHA warehouse temperature regulations?
OSHA surprisingly does not have any strict regulations about warehouse temperatures. The agency recognizes that while 80-degrees Fahrenheit may be ideal for one employee, it can cause another employee discomfort and even heat stress. As such, the agency hasn’t released any strict temperature requirements for warehouses.
Instead, OSHA recommends that companies maintain all internal companies at a range of 68-78 degrees Fahrenheit, with humidity in the approximate range of 20 to 60 percent.
What about warehouses that require a temperature-controlled environment that is outside of this range, such as frozen foods? In these situations, employers are required to provide workers with adequate protection against extreme temperatures.
Can extreme temperatures cause harm to employees?
OSHA may not have any strict requirements for your warehouse temperature, but they are concerned with any extreme temperatures that employees may be exposed to. Health issues can arise from both heat stress and cold stress, and employees must protect against both.
Heat stress disorders
Heat stress is a general term to describe the total net heat load on any given body. Any source of heat can contribute to heat stress, including the body’s own metabolism. When it comes to warehouse safety, OSHA is concerned with six specific heat stress disorders:
- Heat stroke causes the body’s temperature regulation system to fail
- Heat exhaustion can cause headaches and nausea
- Heat cramps caused by the loss of salt due to sweating
- Heat collapse due to loss of oxygen to the brain
- Heat rash created by sweat that doesn’t evaporate
- Heat fatigue that impacts motor and mental functions
There will be fines and other penalties if OSHA determines that your environment is responsible for causing any of the above heat stress orders. Ensure that your warehouses are using intuitive inspection software to maintain safe working conditions if your workers will be exposed to extreme temperatures.
Cold stress disorders
Employees that are exposed to freezing temperatures can develop a variety of conditions that are all related to cold stress. There are not as many types of cold stress disorders as heat stress disorders, but they can be equally as dangerous. Prolonged exposure to extremely cold temperatures can cause frostbite, hypothermia, and cold water immersion.
How to protect your employees
Warehouses that do not require extreme temperatures to store products will be able to easily abide by OSHA’s surprisingly open regulations for warehouse temperatures. However, any warehouses with extreme temperatures need to ensure that their employees are safe at all times. You can ensure your employees’ safety by:
- Providing quality protective equipment against extreme temperatures
- Add normal temperature break areas nearby, such as an air-conditioned break room for high-heat warehouses
- Create less-restrictive dress codes that allow employees to dress comfortably for their workday
- Allow workers in extreme temperatures to take more and longer breaks than other employees
- Provide beverages that help regulate employees’ internal temperatures, such as hot chocolate or coffee for cold environments
You can certainly take steps to prevent harm to your employees by creating a safe work environment even if they must work in extreme temperatures. We suggest using digital inspection software to create policies and procedures that are designed to keep your employees free from harm.
Make health and safety requirements more visible with monitorQA
Warehouses are filled with potential hazards. It’s your responsibility to minimize these hazards as much as possible to keep workers safe while at work.
Any warehouse that uses extreme temperatures to store or process goods should ensure health and safety requirements are visible and readily accessible to ensure your employees are safe.
Are you interested in seeing how companies in all industries are leveraging a powerful inspection and audit platform to achieve operational excellence? Start your free monitorQA trial today to get started.