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Warehouses see a constant ebb and flow of goods, and from a logistical standpoint, it’s a constant balancing act. But this balancing act becomes even harder when you introduce temperature concerns into the equation.
On one hand, you need temperature controls in order to keep your products safe on the shelf. On the other hand, storing your products using lower than normal temperatures may place your employees at risk.
Here’s a closer look at what you need to know about OSHA warehouse temperature regulations and guidelines to stay compliant and keep employees safe, no matter what the thermostat says.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) tends to be the core topic of many health and safety conversations. They’re the primary enforcer of safety standards in the workplace safety space on the federal level, and most industries fall under their purview.
Temperature is an area where things get a bit interesting.
Technically, OSHA doesn’t have warehouse temperature regulations per se. Under the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act, employers are responsible for providing a place of employment reasonably free of recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious injury. OSHA also has standards related to heat stress.
However, OSHA does not have specific temperature regulations, in that it does not require employers to maintain a specific temperature in any workplace.
With that in mind, there are temperature recommendations. Keeping in mind that a 75-degree Fahrenheit office might be pleasant for one employee and completely intolerable for another, OSHA recommends that employers keep the thermostat set somewhere between 68 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. OSHA regulations do kick in when temperatures become so extreme they could lead to heat stress, hypothermia, or similar temperature-related conditions.
That said, there are recommendations in place if your warehouse stores food. For maximum shelf life, 50 degrees Fahrenheit allows maximum shelf life of shelf-stable products, but 70 degrees Fahrenheit is sufficient for most shelf-stable products.
Refrigerated products should be stored between 32 degrees and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and temperatures must be maintained by thermostats accurate within three degrees Fahrenheit. Freezer storage spaces must be maintained at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
If your warehouse is storing food at temperatures below OSHA’s standard recommended temperature range for pharmaceutical or food safety reasons, employees must be provided with the appropriate temperature protection and trained in work procedures designed to mitigate the harmful effects of temperature exposure.
While OSHA warehouse temperature regulations are looser than many other regulations, the reality is that you’re still dealing with a whole host of other compliance concerns. Just staying on top of updates to the regulatory material is a full-time job in its own right.
That’s why we developed compliance obligation software that allows your EHS team to take back control of your time. This way, you’ll always know exactly where you stand with compliance and when you need to course-correct.
Since 2009, the team at EHS Insight have been on a mission to make the world a better place. Join us by subscribing to our Blog and receive updates on what’s new in the world of EHS, our software and other related topics.
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