Concerns of Airborne Ammonia in Ice-Production Facilities: Enhancing Protection Of Workers In Malaysia


Audit findings conducted by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health from 2010 till 2018 at one hundred and forty-two (142) ice-production facilities throughout Malaysia, found that presence of ammonia can be detected easily throughout the ice factories and low level of occupational safety and health awareness was found among the owners. This study aims to determine profile of ammonia concentration in the layout of ice-production facilities which can contribute to significant health risk to its workers. The study has been conducted for eight months from September 2021 till May 2022 in four different zones in West Malaysia. Thisstudy is using both direct reading instruments such as a high performance multigas analyzer integrated with Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) and a Multirae data analyzer to measure ammonia concentration in thirty-eight ice-production facilities. Ammonia measurements confirmed that ammonia is detected at various locations in the factory layout. It is found to be localized and concentrated at the machine room followed by machine room combined with production room. Both instruments seem to show similar trend which validate the profile obtained for ammonia.The study also seeks to find a correlation between the compliance of these facilities with the Occupational Safety and Health (Use and Standards of Exposure of Chemicals Hazardous to Health) (USECHH) Regulations 2000 and compliance with the Guideline of Safe Management of Ammonia Refrigeration System 2020. Pre and post audits based on ammonia guideline were also conducted to identify any gap. It was found that the results obtained for the USECHH compliance, ammonia compliance either pre or post audits were not positively correlated. This finding emphasizes that there is still a lack of commitment from these ice-production facilities even after the visits by authorities. Comparison between the data ammonia measured and the degree of compliance using ammonia guideline were also made. The results obtained emphasize that there were no strong correlation between the data measured and the degree of compliance.This study provided suggestions, recommendations, measures and future measures to be taken to boost compliance with the USECHH Regulations. Future research with risk modelling of ammonia leakages could also be ventured into. Recommendations were also suggested for employers to improve or redesign their layout of the ice-production facilities based on these measurements.

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