We've reached the vaccine distribution threshold of the coronavirus pandemic — where manufacturers, logistics companies and healthcare providers must consider new safety measures for everyone involved. Businesses have taken several precautions to help protect workers from an infection from the virus itself. But delivery drivers could be at risk from another hidden danger associated with the shipment of the vaccine.
Several vaccine options need to be stored at extremely cold temperatures, and dry ice is the ideal solution for maintaining low temperatures over a sustained period. Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide (CO2), and is commonly used in research areas to allow for rapid cooling of materials. As dry ice warms, it sublimates (passes directly into a gas without becoming a liquid) at -78.5 degrees Celsius (-109.3 degrees Fahrenheit). This quick shift to a gas state can pose worker safety hazards, including frostbite and asphyxiation from high levels of CO2 , and these hazards should not be taken lightly.
Many shipping companies are well acquainted with handling dry ice, and know how to take proper precautions as a regular part of their handling of hazardous materials. However, the volume and frequency of dry ice handling is due to increase significantly with shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine. This will increase the number of people placed at risk as they handle the packaged vaccine. It will be critical to communicate protocols and implement safety measures.
Following are a few guidelines that can help keep everyone safer when working with dry ice:
By following proper safety precautions and providing workers with advanced, portable gas detectors, companies involved in the supply chain can help to safely and efficiently distribute a much-needed vaccine to respond to the global pandemic.
Bob Fawley is senior customer marketing specialist for Honeywell’s Gas Analysis and Safety business.
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