For most, the ideal temperature inside a warehouse is somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees at all times. Not too hot, and not too cold. Just the right temperature where you can comfortably wear a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, or pants and a long sleeve shirt.

Unfortunately, warehouses are now always at this temperature, and different climates dictate different protocols to weather hot and cold temperatures. 

Acclimatizing our bodies to extreme cold fronts and heat waves can be helpful, but that is a gradual process. In certain conditions, extreme temperatures — whether they’re hot or cold — can be a safety risk to employees. Until we can acclimate to changing temperature conditions, we must find ways to combat changing weather and working conditions so that productivity and safety aren’t compromised.

Let’s dive into some practices that you can implement to balance the hot or cold working conditions for physical laborers. 


Heating solutions

Depending on your location, you can keep your warehouse warm in several key ways. 

For one, if your warehouse has large bay doors or docks for trucks, it’s important to keep them closed as often as possible. Beyond that, routine checks should be conducted around the edges of each door before the cold season sets in to ensure that no drafts are leaking in. Cold air drafts like these can drastically reduce the temperature of an entire area in a building and needlessly force the heating utilities to push harder to maintain the desirable indoor temp.

Understanding the flow of indoor traffic in large warehouses, both on-foot workers and any machinery like forklifts, are crucial to optimizing heating consumption and climate maintenance. Once you nail down the paths that indoor vehicles and workers most typically use, it’s important to pinpoint what thresholds to the outdoors they may be using that could introduce cold air flow into the structure. 

Any staging areas for machinery that needs continual access to the outdoors should be cordoned off with plastic strip doors to serve as a heat buffer to prevent cold air from permeating the rest of the working floor.  

Additionally, any company vehicles like service trucks should be parked indoors directly after use to take advantage of leftover engine heat that will radiate into the building. Just make sure that vehicles are never left running inside an enclosed area to minimize carbon dioxide emissions.


Cooling solutions

Combating heat is a little different than fighting the cold. With cold, you can advise employees to throw on more layers of warm clothing. With hotter temperatures, it’s tougher to lose more layers of clothing, especially when you might have OSHA apparel regulations to maintain. This can lead to tricky scenarios where workers could be subject to overheating. 

In these cases, it’s important to anticipate the severity of the heat might be ahead of time. Paying attention to local weather reports and any potential heat advisories can help dispatchers and job planners with deciding how to respond properly to heat wave advisory regulations. 

Although any employee can be affected by heat waves, these naturally occurring phenomena can be more dangerous to older employees, as the probability of heat strokes rises in workers over the age of 65.

If you’re currently working in a non-climate-controlled warehouse, consider investing in large space fans or wall-mounted air conditioning units. Large, industrial ceiling fans can supplement A/C units in distributing cool air and homogenizing the cooler air temps around a whole building. 

Provide personnel with heat-resistant clothing and measures to minimize overheating, such as moisture-wicking head and neck bands. 


Renovation plan

If you’re thinking about a major renovation to better insulate your warehouse/storefront, you’ll need to plot out the logistics of it in a way that ideally will not impede workflow and productivity. In other words, the goal is to remain open while you renovate.

You should communicate weeks in advance to workers and customers the estimated duration and location of the renovation and how it might affect their ability to access certain facilities or areas. 

If the nature of your business sees natural slowdown periods due to seasonality, try planning your renovation for that time of year, so it doesn’t become mayhem during the busy season. 

Some companies will pull personnel out of their normal duties to have them work on the renovation, but that can often lead to inexperienced labor put onto a project while also borrowing man-hours away from relied-upon revenue streams. Instead of this, consider paying the extra cash to hire professional contractors to come in and do the work, leaving your normal personnel to their regular work. 

You may even be able to look to your insurance providers to see if they will partly or fully subsidize the renovation costs to make your building more conducive to changing weather conditions, provided you can make a strong case that it will reduce liability.


Streamlining the climate

There are ample ways to optimize your warehouse. Of course, the climate you’re in will dictate the type of utilities and tools you might need. But staying aware of what features of the building could be working against you and correcting them is important for maximizing safety and minimizing costs and liability.