PSM require us to train all contractors “who could affect or be affected by” the ammonia refrigeration process. Here’s a good reminder why we train contractors working in a PSM facility to be aware of ammonia:
“Fire officials say a contractor was fixing ceiling tiles inside AmeriCold Logistics off of Princess Anne Road when he fell from his ladder and hit a valve, releasing ammonia gas into the air. That worker along with another were taken to the hospital but are expected to be ok. The building was evacuated and nearby schools and neighbors were told to stay inside.”
Here are two quick stories of how things can go wrong from contractors who aren’t supposed to be directly working on the refrigeration system but most certainly affected it:
Roofers: I was informed that there were some roofers working on top of a production facility replacing a section of roof. Since this section was directly adjacent to our evaporative condensers I decided to take them a NH3 safety handout and give them a brief talk about the location and hazards of ammonia. When I got to the site I found a half-dozen workers removing the pipe supports for a 6” condenser drain line with sledgehammers. There was about 20’ already unsupported and they planned to remove about 30’ feet more!
Plumbers: This story was related to me by a refrigeration contractor. They were removing some abandoned piping from a refrigerated warehouse and the maintenance manager had “helpfully” spray-painted the pipes to be removed with a safety orange color. The plumbing contractor had a few college students working for them as summer help and the message they got was essentially “cut out all the pipes painted orange”. The refrigeration contractor was working on a compressor and left the engine room to answer his cell phone. When he exited the engine room he saw a young man on a stepladder using a saws-all to cut into a 1 ½” High Pressure Liquid line. Thankfully he took the initiative to stop the disaster before the saws-all made it through the schedule 40 pipe.
When in doubt – train for awareness; it’s 15 minutes of your time that could save a life!