Monday, May 19, 2008

Ammonia Safety Information

As part of my daily internet review I check a number of sites for news reports about chemical incidents. Readers of this blog will realize that I do this looking for information that could provide lessons to security planners for high-risk chemical facilities. A recent news report led me to an unusual location for safety information about Anhydrous Ammonia; the United Food and Commercial Workers Union web site.

Given the fact that many of their members work at sites that use Anhydrous Ammonia in refrigeration and cooling systems, it is entirely appropriate that their web site provides information about the hazards associated with this beneficial but hazardous chemical. Facility management has a legal responsibility under OSHA regulations to provide such information to workers that handle hazardous chemicals, but it is good to see other organizations taking a serious interest in safety communications.

What makes this document so interesting is that it provides information about the necessary monitoring for concentrations in the air during and after a leak. Some employers would criticize the instructions to contact emergency personnel or medical personnel without going through the facility management, but time is frequently important in these situations.

In general these instructions are well written and are not inflammatory or ‘anti-ammonia’ in any way. The UFCW is to be commended on their contribution to their member’s safety.

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