OSHA looks to improve ammonia safety
USA: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is to continue to work with the Global Cold Chain Alliance to improve ammonia refrigeration system safety.
With the renewal of the alliance announced yesterday OSHA and GCCA will provide training to OSHA staff including a webinar on ammonia safety and develop outreach materials related to ammonia safety and process safety management (PSM). The alliance will also support the agency’s national outreach campaigns including the National Emphasis Programme for Chemical Facilities and the prevention of falls in construction.
Under the National Emphasis Programme the OSHA ensures ammonia refrigeration facilities are compliant with its PSM standard and verifies that employers’ written and implemented PSM programmes are consistent. It also carries out carries out random inspections.
ASHRAE estimates that just 2% of worldwide ammonia production is used for refrigeration. Most is used as fertiliser in agriculture. Less than 2% is said to be used in refrigeration, although moves towards “natural” refrigerants is likely to increase its popularity.
Although ammonia leaks are not uncommon, fatalities are relatively few: 19 deaths were reported in the USA across all 10,000 facilities using ammonia between 1996 and 2011.