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Safety tips for working with ammonia

Posted on by SST

Toxic gas detectors can save the lives of employees who may be required to work with hazardous gases. When employees are required to work in areas containing ammonia, employers have a responsibility to their workforce to limit the risk of on-the-job injury by training employees on safety procedures and by installing the proper safety equipment.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ammonia is a commonly used in manufacturing, refrigeration and in the agriculture industry. The toxic gas is also often used in disinfectants and can sometimes be found in the form of ammonium hydroxide. Many industrial locations use the chemical for cleaning. Ammonia is a clear, colorless gas and, if under pressure, appears as a clear and colorless liquid. Ammonia can be released in the air as a vapor or liquid spray and it can contaminate water, the CDC said. The chemical is also flammable, which may present another danger when heat exposure is involved.

Workers who are exposed to high quantities of ammonia can suffer fatal consequences, which is why it is important for employers to limit overexposure to the gas.

The body can absorb ammonia through skin contact and eye contact, inhalation and ingestion. Since the gas is very pungent, it is easy to determine if an employee had been exposed to the gas. However, overexposure can lead to loss of smell, which can prevent a worker from knowing of an ammonia presence. Additional symptoms of ammonia poisoning include headaches, nausea and vomiting, irritation to nose and lungs and burns on the skin or eyes. Workers in an area containing ammonia should wear thick rubber gloves, long-sleeved shirts and safety goggles.

OSHA standards limit ammonia exposure for workers
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides guidelines for employers to follow in order to ensure the safety of workers. The federal administration determined the permissible limit of ammonia exposure is 50 parts per million averaged over an eight hour work day.

Working safety equipment can help prevent the injury or death of workers at the job site. To avoid employee harm, employers should be aware of the dangers surrounding exposure to ammonia and what is at risk of an ammonia leak occurs.

Industrial Safety News brought to you by Safety Systems Technology, Inc., leaders in fire and gas detection systems.

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