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Hot and Cold: Handling Safe Transitions From the Freezer to the Summer Loading Dock


Warehouse work in the summer is serious business. The loading dock is often a sweltering tarmac and the transition to air-conditioned can hit you like a refreshing ton of bricks until you start to shiver. If your inventory work also involves a walk-in freezer, you are dealing with two temperature extremes.

While it may be nice to catch some sun or some AC, no one wants to transition from sweating on the loading dock to that sweat freezing in the walk-in. How can you keep yourself and/or your warehouse team comfortable and temperature-safe when moving between two extremes in the midst of heavy labor? We have some ideas.

The Three Heat Stages of Summer Warehousing

Warehouse work with a loading dock and a walk-in freezer usually has three challenging temperature transitions to deal with.

Heat Waves at the Loading Dock

First, there’s the sunbaked loading dock. Even properly shaded, your loading dock will be letting in the summer heat, and that heat will pervade your entire storage area until there is an airlock with AC behind it. Your team may be dealing with dangerously high temperatures, especially with heat coming off in shimmering waves from the asphalt parking lot or back road.

The Air-Conditioned Chill

Moving from the loading dock to air-conditioned spaces feels good at first, but may soon have your team shivering in sweat-soaked shirts. Even without a freezer, teams are often challenged to come up with solutions to stay comfortable in and out of the heat or cool air.

The Ice Caves of the Walk-In Freezer

Then there’s the walk-in freezer. For team members already soaked in sweat and quickly dissipating heat, the freezer can be a dangerous location to linger for any amount of time, but putting on a parka may seem ridiculous and sweaty in the middle of summer.

How to Survive Drastic Temperature Changes in Summer Warehouse Work

Here are a few smart strategies to optimize your team and routine for safer, more comfortable transitions from the loading dock to the walk-in freezer.

Dress in Layers from Coolest to Warmest

Layers are an important way to approach multiple temperature zones. Start by dressing for the hottest temperatures – with lightweight shirts and pants that are breathable on the loading dock. Then add an overshirt or light jacket that can be put on as soon as the AC starts to feel chill, followed by the coats, gloves, and hats needed to handle goods safely in the walk-in.

Summertime Towels and Dry-Off Fans

Fans are essential for summer warehouse survival, but powerful fans in the right places can also help reduce the amount of sweat that stays on the body (and becomes a risk in the cold). Placing fans near break areas and doorways can help your team to dry off on the go. A few frequently washed towels for mopping the worst of the sweat may also come in handy.

Strategically Placed Coat Hooks

Dressing in layers means taking those outer layers off and putting them back on again as your team moves through the different warehouse temperature zones.  Place coat hooks near the door to the air-conditioned space and another row of coat hooks outside the walk-in freezers. This way, your team can adjust their wardrobe based on how long they will be in each area, putting on their parka or hanging up their overshirt as they transition to each temperature extreme.

“Dipping Your Toe” to Control Body Temperature

Extreme temperature zones can also be useful to one another if a warehouse worker overheats or becomes too cold. This is known as dipping your toe or briefly walking to the other extreme. If someone is overheating on the loading dock, a quick step into the freezer can help cool them down fast. If they forget their parka and become too chill, a blast of summer heat will have those fingers warming back up in no time.

Drink Plenty of Water

Stay hydrated, and help others to do so. In extreme heat, you lose tons of water and sweat to salt. In the walk-in freezer, the dry air and cold sap moisture from your body. Warehouse work, in general, requires good hydration but during these summer extremes, it’s more important than ever.

Is your warehouse team ready to comfortably handle transitions from the sunbaked loading dock to the deep-freeze walk-in? For more smart warehouse and inventory team tips, or holsters to keep your hands free, contact us today.