Chemscape offers trusted ammonia exposure control plans based on our Chemical Hazard Assessment and Management Program (CHAMP) tool and industrial hygiene services.

What Is Ammonia?

Ammonia is a chemical that’s typically a gas or liquid, although it’s most dangerous as a gas. It’s highly toxic when you inhale it, and it’s also explosive in concentrations between 16 and 25 percent by volume. Heat and combustible materials increase the risk of ammonia exploding, especially when these factors are combined. An ammonia Exposure Control Plan (ECP) is essential for identifying and mitigating the risks of ammonia exposure in any facility that handles anhydrous ammonia.

What Is an Ammonia Exposure Control Plan & Why It's Important

An ammonia Exposure Control Plan is a document that’s developed as part of an organization’s overall chemical safety management program. It details the ammonia exposure hazards workers may encounter while performing their duties and outlines the protective measures that are available. Regulatory bodies such as OH&S in Alberta and WorkSafe in British Columbia require employers to develop ECPs.

How Are Workers Exposed to Ammonia?

  • There are a number of ways that workers may encounter ammonia. The most frequent locations are in farms, refrigeration systems and chemical solutions.
  • Farms have high concentrations of ammonia in compost piles, manure pits and any enclosed areas with animals.  
  • Refrigeration systems include ice manufacturing plants and skating rinks in addition to standard refrigerators.  
  • Fertilizers and cleaners are the most common chemical solutions that contain ammonia.

Workplace Hazards

  • The greatest risk of ammonia is inhaling the gas.  
  • Low concentrations irritate soft tissue such as the eyes, nasal passages and respiratory system. Higher concentrations of ammonia can burn the skin and may be lethal within a few breaths.

Worker Responsibilities When Handling and Working with Ammonia

Worker responsibilities regarding ammonia include attending meetings on standard operating procedures and training on specific equipment such as respirators. They must also report any existing hazards and deficiencies in procedures to their supervisor. Workers must clear the area and begin emergency procedures if they detect an ammonia leak.

Employer Responsibilities When Handling and Working with Ammonia

Employers must establish the responsibilities for operating and maintaining equipment that contains ammonia such as refrigeration units. They must also hold all organizational levels accountable for their role in executing the ECP. Employers must update their exposure control plans in response to changes in operating conditions and regulations. They must also maintain training records and conduct periodic audits to verify compliance with WHMIS.

Ammonia Risk Mitigation

The most effective way of mitigating the risk of ammonia exposure is to eliminate the source of exposure. If that is not a possible option, it’s important to consider the following points in an effort to minimize the exposure to ammonia in the workplace.

Substitute of Eliminate the Use of Ammonia

This option often involves replacing ammonia with a less hazardous material if available. 

Modify Controls & Processes

Evaluate what the controls and processes are and evaluate if the work process can be revised so that less ammonia is being used in a work setting or if the ventilation system can be improved upon.

Revise Work Settings and Policies

This step involves further review of employee workstations and operating procedures to determine if additional awareness tools such as posters, signage or even alarm systems can be introduced in order to provide workers with greater awareness of the possible exposure to ammonia.

Use of PPE

The use of personal protective equipment is an important factor in minimizing the exposure to ammonia. It’s vital to ensure that workers have access to appropriate respirators, eye wear and that meets Canadian standards.

Trusted Ammonia Control Plans Approved by WorkSafeBC

Chemscape Safety Technologies develops custom designed Ammonia Exposure Control Plans that are unique to your business and day-to-day operations while meeting WorkSafeBC standards and regulations. We go the extra mile to ensure that all working elements are considered in the development of your exposure control plan.

For more information about developing an Ammonia Exposure Control Plan that is unique to your business, please get in touch with the team of experienced occupational health and safety professionals at Chemscape Safety Technologies.