In response the September death of a California wine worker the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has issued a warning about the dangers of anhydrous ammonia.
Anhydrous ammonia is used under pressure as a liquid refrigerant in many wineries across California.
The chemical is extremely hazardous to a person’s health, if released in the air. Potential health effects include skin, eye and lung corrosion ant lower levels and death at levels of 300 ppm.
Signs of exposure listed in the warning include throat pain and coughing.
The release states to prevent exposures and injuries employers must:
- Develop and require refrigeration maintenance personnel to follow written standard procedures for maintaining the refrigeration system per manufacturer’s recommendations including such routine procedures as oil draining.
- Ensure that the ammonia refrigeration system is operated and maintained only by trained and competent personnel.
- All employees need to be trained on the hazards of ammonia, the signs, symptoms and detection of an ammonia release, and the proper procedures for escape during an emergency.
The document also describes General Responses to Ammonia Release. Those responses include if you:
- Smell ammonia, immediately leave the area and notify your supervisor.
- Inhale ammonia, immediately move to fresh air and get medical attention.
- Have skin or eye contact, immediately flush affected area with water for fifteen minutes.
- See an ammonia cloud (white fog), immediately exit the building or area and move upwind to a designated location.
To view the entire warning click here.