Cold storage facilities carry all the same potential dangers as a standard warehouse, as well as a few special risks and fire hazards that have to be dealt with. Risk assessment shows the kind of approach a cold storage warehousing might take. Use it as a guide to think through some of the hazards in place and the steps needed to take to control the risks towards protecting people…
- Dr. S. S. Verma
Cold storage is basically a term used for refrigerated of frozen storage facilities. Cold stores can be used in rooms, homes, supermarkets, warehouses for a host of applications including storing foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals and medicines, ambient products, chilled produce and frozen products. Cold storage could be something as small as a walk-in cooler or freezer or big warehouse. It could also be mobile such as a reefer trailer (refrigerated semi-trailer) or cargo container to go on ships. Cold storage usually refers to freezing temperatures or below but can also apply to cooler temperatures. The flexibility of bespoke cold storage can come in particularly handy at seasonal peak times, when the need for extra storage arises or if a facility needs to move, the whole system can easily be relocated. The flexibility can accommodate site expansion, increase in production and any changes in legislation. To explain what makes up a cold room and how it operates, a cold room/store, as the name implies, is a distinct kind of room where very low temperature is maintained at all times. This special type of room is able to keep its temperature with the help of precision instruments and other similar machines. With the advanced technology that we have today, it is not surprising that cold room facilities are continuously built and improved upon. They not only have a great impact on our daily lives but they also play a big role in the unstable game of supply and demand, in terms of perishable goods. Although there are other industries that make use of cold rooms, the food industry is the first on the list of sectors in need of these special facilities. These cold storage facilities are commonly built to store perishable goods for a period of time. Due to the increasing demand in food supply, the production of perishable goods such as fruit and vegetables continues to rise. In order to preserve these types of goods, they need to be placed in cold storage facilities to make sure that they do not spoil. Cold rooms are very important because they help to prolong the shelf life of fresh goods. They are also effective in reducing the amount of waste and in lengthening the timeframe for marketing these foods.
Cold Storage Capacity Building
Use of cold storage facilities called cold storage warehousing is growing very fast with a rising concern of people about controlled cost, availability on demand, comfort, freshness of food items etc. Cold stores are carefully designed to meet the client’s needs and purposes. From project management to the final construction of the facility, every little detail is taken care of until the whole facility is completed. A project designed for the food and drink industry includes the following services: food manufacturing facilities, chiller and freezer cold stores, drainage installations, hygienic floor finishes, service and preventative maintenance and many others. Cold storage humidification systems afford the people in charge of food transport the ability to control the temperature, moisture, and air quality surrounding the food. The appropriate temperatures and humidification directly affects food safety. Commercial humidification used during food transport and in grocery store storage facilities, ensures that food items reach the shelves as close to ripe, fresh, and healthy as possible. If the food we eat is of a high quality, then our overall health can follow suit. India has around 6,300 cold storage facilities, with a capacity of 30.11 million tonnes. However, some 75-80 per cent of these refrigerated warehouses are suitable only to store potatoes, a commodity that produces only 20 per cent of agricultural revenue. Therefore, India needs expansion of cold storage infrastructure in an affordable, reliable and sustainable way to increase the contribution of agriculture to the economy. India’s investment in cold chain is projected to be $15 billion over the next five years. The organization found that only 10-11 per cent of the fruits and vegetables produced in India use cold storage. Storage capacity needs to be increased by 40 per cent to avoid wastage.
Dangers In Cold Storage Facilities
There are a number of special dangers and problems associated with cold storage facilities and cold storage maintenance. Cold storage facilities carry all the same potential dangers as a standard warehouse, as well as a few special risks and fire hazards that have to be dealt with. Risk assessment shows the kind of approach a cold storage warehousing might take. Use it as a guide to think through some of the hazards in place and the steps needed to take to control the risks towards protecting people. Following type of dangers can be encountered:
Insulated Metal Panels: Effectively sustaining adequate temperature ranges in refrigerated warehouses presents itself as an obstacle that is frequently cleared by installing insulation in the ceilings and walls of the facility. However, it’s important to avoid using unprotected spray-on foam padding while performing cold storage maintenance in order to lessen the chances of fire spreading quickly across the building’s ceilings and walls. It’s important to choose these metal panels made with non-flammable cores (like those that are comprised of mineral wool), or those that have been approved according to approval standards.
Ammonia: Very frequently, ammonia is the preferred coolant in refrigerated storage facilities. Anhydrous ammonia, which is a highly combustible gas, has the ability to cause catastrophic fires and booms. Standard ammonia is considered a dangerous substance as well, and as a result its use must adhere to safety guidelines for cooling systems.
Moisture: In addition to temperatures within cold storage units and warehouses, moisture levels are of considerable importance. When relative humidity levels are too dry, goods dehydrate and shrink. When condensation levels are too high, electronics may experience problems, goods deteriorate and products may experience mold, bacterial or insect contamination that may pose health risks to workers and consumers. Electronics designed specifically for cold storage areas experience difficulties to workers when exposed to humidity and condensation like: not to be productive and failure of electronic devices.
Fire risks: It may sound illogical given the extremely cold conditions, but cold storage facilities actually carry a significant fire risk. There are many contributing factors to this, from chemicals to air composition to simply the storage of flammable goods and packaging. Minimizing this risk is obviously crucial for anyone operating such a facility.
Because cold storage areas are generally confined type of spaces so there is always a need to get training and become familiar with the safety features at a cold storage along with some pre-requisite safety measures at cold storages.
• For escape in an emergency, cold storage rooms should have at least one door that opens from the inside
• Lighting must be supplied through a constantly burning bulb or a light with an illuminated switch located inside the cold room
• Non-slip flooring mats protect workers in wet areas
• If anti-freeze doors are not installed in at the cold storage workplace, ensure that a firefighter’s axe is stored in the room.
• Items in cold storage are often valuable and require security.
• Doors at the worksite must have inside and outside locking mechanism.
• Other options include posting warning signage on the door and providing audible and visible signal systems inside the room that are tested daily.
• Ensure that chemicals in cold storage are stocked properly and with compatible materials.
• Note that forklifts and combustion equipment can cause fumes to build up in enclosed spaces – use only with proper ventilation.
While working in cold storages one mustbe aware of the hazards that might be involved with cold storage viz., cold stress, slips and trips, confined space, gas-leakages, fire hazards, chemical storage, and ergonomics.
• Dress in warm, layered clothing for proper insulation to maintain body temperature to prevent cold stress
• For extra warmth, wear a warm cap with ear flaps
• Fingers, hands, toes, and feet are susceptible to frostbite with long term exposure to cold; protect them with insulated, moisture-proof gloves and boots
• Water and ice are common in cold storage and pose slip and trip hazards so ensure that boots have no-slip soles
• Take caution with dry ice and liquid nitrogen which can pose an asphyxiation hazard by displacing oxygen.
• Keep cold storage areas safe by protecting yourself from all type of risks and also watch out for your co-workers and check cold storage areas periodically and at closing to ensure no one is trapped. Clean up spills and clutter for good housekeeping and to prevent slip and trip hazards.
Finally, use of cold storages is a well accepted reality, need and a challenge of present day living system. However, the dangers associated with the cold storages and their use cannot be eliminated. Therefore, with proper safety measures and required precautions, we can prevent the accidents, life loss and cost due to accidents while using cold storages. In the last, it can be said that it is easy to keep cold store safe, as long as we follow the safety measures and precautionary measures as listed above.
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