The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is reminding the public that standards are in place to help mitigate potential risks associated with ice rink refrigeration equipment.
Ammonia is commonly used in mechanical refrigeration systems, including those found in ice rinks. These systems are required to be installed, operated and maintained in accordance with the requirements of the Boiler, Pressure Vessel and Compressed Gas Regulations and the Mechanical Refrigeration Code.
In order to ensure the safety of all patrons, inspections are carried out by Service NL to ensure appropriate safeguards such as gas detection/alarms, maintenance requirements, ventilation and staff training are in place. Establishments must also have current and valid inspection certificates. In addition, all workplaces are required to perform their own regular inspections under Section 18 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.
The Occupational Health and Safety Division also conduct regular inspections at ice rinks to promote health and safety. These inspections may also occur as needed to meet the requirements of the legislation or in response to complaints, incidents or accidents.
There are a number of practices that arena users, arena employees and municipal governments that operate arenas can follow to minimize risk, which can be found in the backgrounder below.
“As part of government’s ongoing commitment to promote safety, we have provided arenas throughout the province with updated safety information. Our goal is to inspect these facilities for potential risks so that community members and employees, can safely participate in ice arena activities.”
Honourable Sherry Gambin-Walsh
Minister of Service NL
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Service NL Safety Bulletins
Standards to Minimize Ammonia Risks
- In case of an ammonia leak or emergency, facilities must have a working alarm that workers and arena users can see and hear. The alarm includes a monitor that constantly tracks ammonia levels and responds if concentrations reach a certain preset level.
- Users must accept the responsibility to safely leave the facility as required under the National Fire Code of Canada when a building emergency alarm is activated.
- Arena users should know where fire exits are and evacuate as soon as an alarm is heard.
- Arena employees must understand all written preventative maintenance procedures and emergency response procedures.
- They must understand the health hazards of ammonia and have up-to-date Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) training.
- Employees must also have access to (and understand how to use) adequate personal protective equipment (e.g. respirators).
Municipal governments that operate arenas
- It is the arena operator’s responsibility to train staff, as well as provide all necessary financial resources to safely operate the equipment to meet all regulatory compliance obligations.
- In consultation with equipment manufacturers or suppliers, owners must ensure that all equipment is inspected regularly and replaced when necessary.
- They must also ensure everyone who works on the ammonia system has ready access to, and understands the written preventative maintenance and emergency procedures that they have developed for this type of work.
- Arena operators are encouraged to update and practice emergency drills with staff.
- Operators must include plans for testing and replacing, where required, all safety equipment, such as monitors and alarm systems, detection equipment, ventilation, radios, eyewash stations, respiratory and skin protection equipment and first aid kits.
- They must also establish a system to ensure the continued well-being of workers who enter an ammonia enclosure on their own (working alone policy).