Ammonia Hazards

Ammonia hazards are more common than you think. Many companies use this dangerous substance for refrigeration, and workers need to know the risks.

In this podcast, we describe anhydrous ammonia, and how it’s used in breweries, cold storage warehouses, processing milk, cheese and meat.

Ammonia hazards include its high flammability, and toxicity to the skin, lungs and eyes.

Always use precautions when working with ammonia for good industrial hygiene. Wear the appropriate PPE. Proper pipe marking is critical, as is GHS and NFPA labeling. The MSDS should be readily available.


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Ammonia_Hazards-Creative_Safety_Supply-250x250Dan Clark: Is ammonia being used in your workplace? It’s more common than you might think. And dangerous.

Hello, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief. This is where we talk about health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites.

Ammonia is a hazardous liquid or gas, very often used in commercial refrigeration and other industries. If someone is exposed to ammonia, they can have serious injuries or even die. Know ammonia hazards and precautions.

Here’s a little ammonia background:

* Many commercial refrigeration systems using anhydrous ammonia.

* Anhydrous means without water

* As a gas it’s colorless, but very pungent.

* In liquid form, it’s clear and evaporates quickly at room temperature. That’s what they use in refrigeration. The liquid is created by compressing the gas.

* It’s used to keep things cold in the processing of meat, dairy, beverages, also in breweries and cold storage warehouses.


* Lungs – Inhalation can quickly burn the nose, throat and all the way down through the upper chest.

* Eyes – It can cause irritation and even permanent damage or blindness.

* Skin – Ammonia is corrosive. If there’s contact with flesh, it will eat it away.

* If the level of exposure is high enough it can result in death.

* And finally, ammonia is very flammable.


* Use appropriate PPE – Goggles, gloves and respirators, when working around ammonia or pipes that contain ammonia.

* Pipes with ammonia should be clearly labeled with pipe marking so workers are aware.

* Make sure pipes and machinery are maintained to prevent leaks. Exposures commonly happen when pipes leak or rupture.

* Know first aid for ammonia contact. Quickly flush exposed skin or eyes at an emergency eyewash station. For serious exposures, contact emergency services.

That’s all for this episode on Ammonia Hazards. Come back for more tips and techniques on how to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, sponsored by Creative Safety Supply. See the website at


See the OSHA ammonia refrigeration eTool.

Also see OSHA ammonia info.

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