Safety Order: Ammonia refrigeration systems in public occupancies



Reference number

Part 1: Details of regulated work or regulated product

The scope of this Safety Order includes all ammonia refrigeration plants that exceed 5 kW capacity, that are of the indirect system type, and that are installed in a facility that is classified as a public assembly occupancy, which includes ice rinks and curling rinks.

An indirect refrigeration system is one in which a secondary coolant (brine solution), that is cooled or heated by a refrigeration system, is circulated to the substance to be cooled, such as an arena ice surface.

Part 2: Safety Order terms and conditions

The Owner of each ammonia refrigeration plant that is within the scope of this Safety Order is hereby ordered to take initial and on-going actions to detect the presence of ammonia in each secondary coolant (brine solution) system. The Owner shall comply with the terms and conditions of this Safety Order as set out below:

1)     Owners shall conduct a test of the secondary coolant (brine solution) of each separate system to detect the presence of ammonia by December 31, 2017. Tests that were completed on or after August 1, 2017 will also meet this requirement.

2)     The test results shall be submitted to Technical Safety BC within 5 days of the date of receipt of the test results, by submitting to the following link:  

3)     The testing method utilized shall be appropriate for the type of secondary coolant (brine solution) in use and include the capability of detecting the presence of ammonia in the secondary coolant in parts per million (ppm). The report of the test results shall specify the value of ammonia concentration in ppm.

4)     All test results shall be reviewed by the Owner, and records shall be maintained on the facility site.

5)     Records of all test results shall be made available to a Safety Officer upon request.

6)     A Safety Officer may request an Owner to conduct additional testing of any secondary coolant (brine solution), at any time.

7)     In addition to the initial test required by this Safety Order, Owners shall continue to perform periodic testing of the secondary coolant, on a frequency determined by the Owner of the refrigeration plant, but in no case shall the frequency be less than twice per year.

8)     In addition to the testing of secondary coolant (brine solution) for the presence of ammonia, Owners shall also investigate any other indications that an ammonia leak to the secondary coolant (brine solution) has occurred.  Examples of other possible indicators include, but are not limited to: unexpected increase in the normal operating level of the secondary coolant (brine solution), an increase in pressure of the secondary coolant system beyond the normal operating range, or detection of a leak during testing of the system heat exchanger.

9)     The Owner shall take immediate action to correct any ammonia leaks that are detected in the refrigeration plant and shall take any further actions necessary to reduce and / or prevent the re-occurrence of an ammonia leak, including shutting down the system if necessary.

10)  Any evidence of an ammonia leak shall be reported to Technical Safety BC in accordance with Information Bulletin IB-BP-2017-01 posted on our website at

Part 3: Reason for Safety Order

This Safety Order is being issued to prevent, avoid or reduce the risk of personal injury or damage to property as a result of an accidental leak from an ammonia refrigeration system. Accidental ammonia leaks, from any pressurized system, have the potential to cause injuries, up to and including death, to any person within the immediate vicinity and surrounding area. Technical Safety BC has determined that Owners of some ammonia refrigeration plants may not be conducting testing of their secondary coolant systems for the presence of ammonia, or have not taken the appropriate actions necessary to correct an ammonia leak or to prevent its re-occurrence.

It is very important that the secondary coolant (brine solution) in an indirect ammonia system be tested for the presence of ammonia on a periodic basis. The presence of ammonia in the secondary coolant (brine solution) is an indication that an internal leak may have occurred in the heat exchanger (e.g. chiller) from the ammonia refrigerant side to the secondary coolant (brine solution) side of the heat exchanger.

It is critical that any indication of an ammonia leak is detected at the earliest opportunity and that corrective action is taken immediately.  

Part 4: Provincial Safety Manager Order

This Safety Order is being issued by a Provincial Safety Manager in accordance with sections 15 (d) and 31 of the Safety Standards Act.



Tony Scholl
Provincial Safety Manager, Boilers and Pressure Vessels



Failure to comply with a Safety Order is an offence under section 72 of the Safety Standards Act.

A person affected by this safety order may appeal this order in writing to the Safety Standards Appeal Board within 30 days. The appeal process is set out on the Safety Standards Appeal Board's website at