Workshop pinpoints two factors behind BC ammonia releases

Technical Safety BC and Baker Engineering and Risk Consultants conducted an ammonia release fault tree workshop to identify potential causes of ammonia releases from industrial refrigeration systems used in arenas and food storage facilities.

The workshop is part of a Technical Safety BC project meant to detect and mitigate emerging and known technical safety risks in the province. Aside from ammonia releases, the other risks being analyzed include carbon monoxide exposureelectric shock, and escalator issues (brake failure, entrapments and pile ups). The project uses the fault tree method which starts with choosing a final event such as an ammonia leak and working backwards to identify all the causes that could have led to the event.

Workshop participants identified two causal factors for ammonia releases:

  1. There was a lack of knowledge and engagement on the part of some facility owners and operators regarding the risks associated with operation of an ammonia refrigeration facility. The level of understanding and support from these owners/operators to allow strong management systems to be developed and maintained was perceived to be lacking.
     
  2. The existence of multiple levels of certification (Refrigeration Operator, 4th Class Power Engineer, Ice Facility Operator, Refrigeration Safety Awareness certification, as well as trades used for maintenance) to allow operation of these facilities was observed to be a potential source of risk. The capabilities and limitations associated with each type of certification are different, and the work that should be delegated to each type of worker is potentially different.

At the end of the workshop, 12 recommendations were made to address the factors identified in the fault tree. The majority of the recommendations were made to strengthen the understanding of asset owners and operators of their responsibilities and duties. A recommendation was also made to perform a gap analysis on the different certifications available to allow the regulator to address any deficiencies in currently available and accepted training and certification programs.

Read the Ammonia Release Fault Tree Study.

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