If your staff work in a cold storage or refrigeration warehouse facility, they’re likely to be at risk for ammonia exposure. Anhydrous ammonia (gaseous form) is often used as a refrigerant for meat, dairy, juice and other food and beverage storage. Some such facilities may also use ammonia in liquid form.
Ammonia leaks or spills pose serious health and safety hazards when working in a refrigeration facility. Because refrigeration systems operate at elevated pressures, the ammonia-related hazards are great. It is important to know your exposure risks and follow appropriate safety precautions.
Ammonia is considered dangerous, as it is extremely corrosive to the eyes, skin and lungs. If inhaled, it will irritate the eyes, nose and throat, and can cause severe coughing or choking in higher concentrations. Those with asthma are especially sensitive to ammonia fumes. Even without inhalation, prolonged exposure to either the liquid or gaseous form can also result in eye damage and chemical burns on the skin.
In addition, ammonia spills can cause a fire or explosion hazard that will endanger everyone in your workplace.
Protect Your Employees
- Always make sure your staff wear personal protective gear when working in refrigerated storage – this may include coveralls, gloves and a mask or respirator.
- Perform maintenance and repair work on schedule. Use extreme caution when doing repairs or maintenance and follow all safety procedures.
- Be sure to regularly inspect all equipment, including piping and hoses, for leaks or corrosion. Catching damage early can help prevent a major leak later.
- Watch for signs of skin contact with ammonia – redness, pain, burns and irritations. If you suspect skin exposure, wash the skin immediately and remove any contaminated clothing.
If you would like to talk to ProAktive to understand how improving risk management can reduce and control your insurance premiums, please contact Ken Stevens on 01302 341 344.