Eight Safety Tips You Didn’t Know About Your Commercial Refrigerator
It’s no secret that the number one concern of any business in Canada relying on a commercial refrigerator is its long-lasting, energy-efficient function. Often, it’s performance issues that first get noticed and repaired, such as drops in cooling temperature, as well as increased energy cost, indicating reduced energy efficiency.
But is your commercial refrigerator in Canada operating safely? While a damaged or declining refrigerator may result in inventory losses that slow down business, safety hazards can quickly turn into emergencies that cause irreversible damage.
Fire and electrical damage, slip-and-fall injuries, and environmental impact are all safety concerns that matter just as much as performance. Without the right safety measures in place, there may not even be a long-term function to optimize, or worse, a profitable operation to run in Canada.
Don’t wait to learn your lesson the hard way. Follow these simple, but effective safety guidelines for operating a commercial refrigerator:
1. Check the refrigerant
Every commercial refrigerator uses a refrigerant. This is responsible for reaching and maintaining low temperatures in cold, food-safe storage. Your fridge must maintain an optimal refrigerant level to prevent food from spoiling.
A low refrigerant level indicates a leak in the system. And while the easy fix might be to simply refill it, you first need to identify and repair the leak. Skipping this step results in releasing refrigerant into the atmosphere — a mix of toxic chemicals that violates environmental standards in Canada and can result in heavy fines.
2. Keep fans unobstructed
Fans play a crucial role in maintaining ideal cooling temperatures. But when obstructed, they can’t push out hot air to keep the refrigerator interiors cold enough. Over time, this pushes a commercial refrigerator to work harder to maintain ideal food-safe temperatures, even to the point of breakdown — and higher utility bills.
But the real danger of an overworked fridge is overheating. This electrical hazard can cost your entire business when this risk is unmitigated. To prevent widespread damage, keep an eye on the fans and anything that might be blocking them. Also, avoid pulling out the unit from the wall to prevent the fans and vents from overheating, especially in these tight spaces.
3. Check the temperature
The basic function of a commercial refrigerator is to maintain ideal cold temperatures for food safety. But how do you know when it’s cold enough — or not at all?
Commercial refrigerators are designed with thermostats that calibrate the interior cooling temperature of the unit, and allow you to monitor storage conditions. Excessively low temperatures will cause ready-to-eat foods not meant for long-term storage to freeze, while high temperatures allow bacteria to breed and spoil food stored inside. Check your unit regularly to ensure consistent optimal cooling temperatures.
4. Detect leaks and clean them up
Leaks in the drain line or around your fridge can indicate ventilation, HVAC, or even refrigerant issues. These need to be inspected and repaired by a certified refrigerator technician. But more pressing is the risk of slip-and-fall injuries when these leaks are not cleaned up right away.
The good news is you can do both — ensure regular clean-up around your unit to eliminate standing water from frost and spills, and book an inspection and repair right away to eliminate this problem in the long run. And while you’re at it, make sure to keep door seals and gaskets, shelves, and interior walls clean to prevent mould build-up and other health issues caused by spills and scraps.
5. Don’t overload your refrigerator
There is a reason that commercial refrigerators come in the shape and storage capacity they do. Every square inch has been carefully calculated according to the fan speed and refrigerant to ensure consistently cool temperatures. But every fridge can only hold so much.
Pushing a commercial fridge well past its storage capacity can have dire consequences. An overloaded fridge can lead to a collapsed shelf, which can injure your staff and customers. Or it can also make it harder for them to reach inside and retrieve what they need, and in the process, injure themselves as they climb up or strain their arms. Most of all, an overloaded fridge has a reduced lifespan — if this electrical hazard does not short the circuit and cause a fire.
6. Wear protective gear
Stand too long in the frozen aisles and you’ll definitely feel the chill. But while customers come and go, staff in loading docks and storage areas are constantly exposed to sub-zero temperatures inside commercial refrigeration units. Make sure to provide staff with protective gear like gloves and suits to protect them from the cold.
Aside from sub-zero temps, protective gear also helps reduce the risk of injury. Often food items for sale or storage come in heavy protective packaging which can be tough to handle and rough on the body. Reduce the risk of injuries from product handling with the right gear.
7. Install emergency alarms
Just like Canada, walk-in commercial refrigerators are notorious for sub-zero temperatures and there’s nothing worse than getting caught unprepared inside one. While protective gear is a must, it can only do so much to protect employees over extended periods — especially when they’re trapped inside.
To prevent this, install alarms to detect and respond to alerts for anyone trapped inside a walk-in refrigerator. These alarms can be time-sensitive: automatically triggered when they detect a person inside for an extended period or switched on by those trapped inside. An alarm system reduces the response time in these emergencies, especially when the noise from the fans and motors will easily drown cries for help.
8. Book a regular maintenance service
The best safety measure is still prevention — and that’s exactly what a regular maintenance service is. Routine inspections will easily reveal underlying performance issues well before an untimely breakdown, and allow a certified refrigerator mechanic to repair them early on.
Commercial refrigerator maintenance can prevent fires by repairing faulty wiring and restore key components like the compressor, condenser and evaporator coils, and drain lines to optimal performance. These enable your commercial refrigerator to function smoothly and maintain food-safe temperatures 24/7 — while keeping energy costs low.
For more safety guidelines concerning commercial refrigerators, call Ancaster Food Equipment at 866-711-5486, or contact us here.