Hawaiian Ice Company in Honolulu, HI, is facing $107,800 in fines for 14 serious safety and health violations for exposing workers to inhalation hazards resulting from an uncontrolled release of anhydrous ammonia, said officials at the Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division (HIOSH).
Inspectors found the company lacked procedures to isolate the chemical while workers were servicing refrigeration equipment. The company also failed to conduct in-house inspections, provide portable monitoring devices to detect leaks, and train workers.
In one violation, the company failed to provide a safe work place by reducing the hazardous exposure to anhydrous ammonia (estimated 7,000 pounds) used for their ice-making process. Employees tasked with on-site maintenance of this system ended up exposed to inhalation and fire hazards associated with anhydrous ammonia.
In addition, on April 24, employees were identifying and repairing ammonia leaks when a release of 3900 pounds of anhydrous ammonia occurred. This resulted in the evacuation of employees and neighboring businesses in the area and the need for medical treatment of employees and the affected neighboring businesses.
In another of the violation, the employer failed to control hazards associated with anhydrous ammonia using work practice controls. On April 24, maintenance personnel attempted to repair several ammonia leaks throughout the plant. Isolation valves upstream and downstream of the Kelvion Subcooler were not isolated prior to troubleshooting.
The employer failed to ensure in house inspections were conducted on the refrigeration system. Daily checks performed on the system by operators only focused on the operating parameters of the ammonia carrying system and not on new or previously missed hazards.