Key Initiatives: Ammonia education and awareness

Ammonia education and awareness

In collaboration with our industry partners, we continue to evolve the Ammonia Safety Awareness Program to improve education, training and awareness of ammonia risks.

Key Statistics

Ammonia Safety Awareness Program

The devastating 2017 ammonia release at the Fernie Memorial Arena caused three fatalities and resulted in the evacuation of 95 residents in the nearby area. Four years later, the event continues to drive the improvement of our ammonia safety awareness efforts.

Following Technical Safety BC’s incident investigation report on the tragedy in Fernie, we tracked ammonia-related incidents to understand how we could reduce risks, improve safety, and partner with industry to close the knowledge gap on safety procedures at ammonia refrigeration facilities.

This partnership led to the creation of the Ammonia Safety Awareness Program. Technical Safety BC and industry partners developed this no-cost specialized education and training program to share best practices for maintaining ammonia refrigeration equipment and systems across their lifecycle. The goal is to enable participants to establish formal maintenance and operational programs to identify, document and manage risks, and make informed budgetary decisions and plans to support the safety of the equipment.

Throughout 2021, we worked in collaboration with our partners to pilot, launch, and evaluate the program, as well as make ongoing improvements to the content and delivery to ensure it would be accessible and impactful for industry.

Building capability and capacity

The Ammonia Safety Awareness Program empowered facility owners, managers, supervisors, operational staff, senior leadership and municipal councils with the tools and knowledge to become champions for safe ammonia refrigeration equipment.

After the co-creation of the program in 2020, it was piloted in March of 2021 with 10 BC ice arenas and clubs. In addition to increasing awareness of ammonia risks, the pilot provided an opportunity to build champions for ammonia safety and advocates for the program itself. The pilot invited participants to provide their feedback on the program to ensure it would suit industry needs.

Cocreation and continuous improvement

Following the success of the pilot, the program officially launched in May 2021, with reassessment at the six-month mark devoted to continuous improvement. This methodology has allowed the team to refine the audience and adapt content and delivery methods to create an impactful program. Based on feedback, we led recorded webinars that attendees could watch at their leisure, as well as live learning opportunities to connect with Technical Safety BC, and each other. Modules were shortened, and downloadable resources were added for self-paced learning. After participants requested more ways to test their knowledge retention, a quiz was introduced for self-assessment. In total, more than 30 improvements have been made to the program content or delivery method over 2021, and by the end of the year 86 facilities had taken part. As we collect feedback from current participants and act on information we gathered during the pilot, we will continue to make improvements to the program on an ongoing basis.

Building a safer tomorrow

During 2021, more than 170 individuals participated in the Ammonia Safety Awareness Program. Our strong partnership with industry enabled us to recognize the need for two new safety orders regarding ammonia in refrigeration plants. After engaging with the industry about their needs, we hosted a live webinar to walk through the safety orders before they were issued and to answer any compliance related questions from stakeholders.

While we continue to partner to improve ammonia safety risk awareness, the success of the program, as well as the dedication to safety illustrated by participants, demonstrates that partnership is a key element in creating a strong safety system.