General Procedures for Walk-in Freezers

Walk-in Freezers

The Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences has several walk-in freezers.  The walk-in freezers are used for storage of ice samples, lake core samples and meteorite samples and as a preparation area for laboratory procedures on such specimens. These facilities pose special risks to workers. All workers should be aware of the possibility of hypothermia, the enclosed space causing reduced oxygen levels as well as poorly or non-functioning opening mechanisms. Cooperation and respect for the facility are requested.

When you are in the freezers, you are often “alone” in that room, even during regular work hours. You should be aware of this and take the necessary precautions to reduce your risk. Basic precautions for working in the freezer are:

  1. Try always to work with a buddy. There is safety in numbers and an immediate support system in the event of an emergency.
  2. Be aware! Cold temperatures affect you both mentally and physically.
  3. Tell someone, your supervisor or another co-worker that you are going to work in the walk-in freezer and when you will return. If you are going to be in the freezer for an extended period, timed checks are advised. Do not forget to report back to that contact person at the agreed upon time(s)!
  4. You should be aware that cell phones might not work well in the walk-in freezer. Before relying on this as a communications device, check to see if it will work in that space. Remember that frozen batteries might disable the phone.  The EAS Department has several two-way radios that can be borrowed when working alone in the freezers (contact , Peter Carlson at 492-6443)

You should familiarize yourself with the various agencies/offices in the Emergency Guide in the front of the University phone book.

                                    Protective Services:  780-492-5050

     Call 911 for Police, Fire or Ambulance

Regulations outlined below must be followed or permission for future visits or work sessions will be denied. The Student Code of Behavior is applicable.

Regulations for  Walk-in Freezer

  1. Before entering the freezer, CHECK the door latch opens easily from the inside. If working for an extended period, check the door mechanism hourly to ensure that it has not frozen shut.
  2. Have a contact person and a check-in schedule. Ensure that your contact can access the freezer or Campus Security if the need arises. Check-in at least once an hour. Cold temperature reduces you mental alertness and physical coordination, so do not work in the freezers for extended periods without a physical and mental rest period. Access is restricted to regular University hours of operation, no evening or weekend work.
  3. Any work that requires moving, shelving/retrieval of heavy boxes or ice core must not be done alone.
  4. An appropriate stool or ladder should be used for shelving/removal of ice core or material from the upper storage shelves.
  5. No food or drink is to be stored or consumed in the walk-in freezers.
  6. Unlabelled samples or boxes will be discarded without notice, but do not move or disturb others samples/material/experiments.
  7. Coats/mittens/head wear or other fabric items of work gear must be hung on the hangers provided outside of the walk-in freezer. Fabric items should not be left on the floor, tables, chairs, storage boxes or blocking the cooling unit machinery.
  8. DO NOT change the temperature of the freezer. Unauthorized temperature changes can affect experiments or samples. Only U of A Facilities Management personnel can change the walk-in freezer temperature with permission from the supervisor.  Many of the freezers are alarmed, so changing the temperature could cause false alarms at Control Center.
  9. Freezer door must NOT be propped open. To prevent unauthorized entry to the walk-in freezer, the laboratory hallway door must be locked at all times when the offices or facilities are unoccupied.
  10. Do not block or cover the cooling fan units inside the freezer or the cooling unit outside of the freezer.

Persons to be notified in case of emergency are:

  • Dan Alessi, Chair of EAS Safety Committee  780-492-8019
  • Katie Nichols, Safety Committee 780-288-3554
  • M-J Turnell, Assistant Chair Admin.  780-492-3216