Health and safety issues

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In this report I will be looking at Health and safety issues related with the manufacture of refrigerator including the use of raw material, storage and disposal of its by-products. Furthermore, I will also be highlighting relevant H&S legislation relating with the use of refrigerator, which includes; delivery, storage and customer service during use and disposal of any residues.

                    The word refrigerator refers to an appliance, a cabinet or a room used for storing food and other substances at low temperature by a process called refrigeration. Refrigeration is the process of extracting and transferring it from the heat source. It maintains the temperature of the heat source below that of its surroundings while transferring the extracted heat to a heat sink or air. The first known attempt to develop a refrigerator was taken by William Cullen from the University of Glasgow in 1748. In a refrigerator, the process involves quick evaporation of a liquid which allows a volume of gas to expand. As water vapour rises, it causes the entropy and kinetic energy of the water molecules to increase. Similarly, this process absorbs energy from its surroundings causing the cooling effect. [1]

Types of Refrigeration

                    Refrigeration based on various components and equipments, connected in a systematic sequence. For instance, refrigerant is required, which is the primary working fluid used for absorbing and transmitting heat. It can either be single chemical compound or a mixture of several compounds. The sequence normally classified by the type of energy input and the refrigeration process itself. One of the commonly adopted systems is the vapour compression system, which consist of a compressor activating the refrigerant producing vapour to produce refrigerating effect during evaporation. [2]

                    Another commonly used method of refrigeration is the Absorption system, refrigeration effect is produced by input of thermal energy. Heat is absorbed from the cooling medium forming refrigerant vapour which is then absorbed by an absorbent.

Furthermore, Air or gas can also be used in refrigeration system. Air is compressed by high pressure causing its temperature to decrease followed by expansion to a low pressure resulting in cooling effect. [3]


Guidelines in Manufacture

During early 1900 century; the use of Chlorofluorocarbons-CFCs were introduced as refrigerants which presumably thought to be safer than other chemicals not knowing that CFC gases causes catastrophic damage to the ozone layer in our stratosphere.

                    In 1990's, legislation was approached from Montreal Protocol, a worldwide established plan brokered by the industrialised nations. EU legislations were commenced and agencies of the European Committee Regulations were advised phase out requirements for CFC and HCFC.

                    Even though, EC Regulations are directly suitable in the UK, domestic policies are required for effective enforcement. Consequently, in year 2000 the department of Environment, Transports and the Regions-DETR approved that, HCF will successfully be banned for use within new large air conditioning. Similarly, refrigerants containing CFCs or HCFCs were happened to be controlled waste, requires suitable disposal by a licensed contractor obeying section 34 of the Environment Protection Act 1990 which declare duty of care for each individual who handle controlled wastes. [5]

In refrigeration industry; most accidents and hazards are not due to the refrigerant itself but more attributable to mechanical or general issues. However, depending on the manufacturer such as Sanyo E & E Corporation, who are affiliated with The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), which is supported with U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the agreement with reducing Hydroflorocarbon (HFC) emission by recommended guidelines, issued in November 2005. [4]

These recommended guidelines were put in place to avoid health and safety and environmental issues that can be caused by HFC. Finding alternative ways in minimising HFC emission level during and after production. Recycle or destroy used HFC where technically and economically possible. Similarly, full technical training should be promoted for personnel dealing with HFC to guarantee fulfilment with regulations and practices.

Despite of recommendations; implementing all these guidelines on a specified factory is obviously impractical due to distinctive conditions in any definite factory.

                    According to the recommended guidelines during delivery, transfer and storage of Refrigerants and Blowing Agents in Tanks, Trucks or cylinders; delivery log should be kept for any chemical delivered into the plants stating its specifications.

To avoid accidental emission releases, all transfer pumps should be inspected on regular basis for any of sign of leakage or fatigue without violating safety provisions. Also, all connection points such as electronic controls and pump connections should be monitored at all times Process and storage lines should be sealed and welded, if necessary. Pressure equalisation line should be used during tank to tank transfers to avoid any vapour that otherwise would have escaped during the pumping process. The batch tank should not be vented and the temperature must be monitored during transfer to the batch blending tank. If possible, closed tank should be used for blending of resin etc. Similarly, the blending tank, the recirculation process piping should be indicated high pressured to avoid unintended discharge.

To avoid cross-contamination; equipments such as containers should only be used with the chemical indicated on the given container. Low emitting seal cap valves should be specified, where appropriate. During sampling, refrigerant recovery should be provided. All equipments must be emptied after sampling via disposal lines.

During testing; the refrigerant sample should never be discharged into the atmosphere. Used refrigerant should be recovered at end of use and stored in a suitable container.

Guidelines for Disposal

Even though disassembly and life cycle climate performance (LCCP) are not part of the production process, they should be taken into consideration during design and production.

                    According to recommended guidelines of AHAM; dispersing product's components; significant consideration needs to be taken for instance, refrigerant liquid should be recovered from the main unit before scrapping to avoid any environmental contamination by HFC. Similarly, recovery equipment should be available to all qualified personnel both in production as well as at the laboratories. All personnel should be trained and certified for handling refrigerant by an independent organisation. The recovered refrigerant should be stored in a safe container, recycled or disposed ethically. [4]


According to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, this comes under common judicial law. It states that employers are accountable for ensuring the safety of their workforce. This accountability is reinforced by regulations such as Compressed Air Regulations 1996 supply a frame structure for health and safety risks related with compressed gas. Employers have to consider issues such as;

  • Work notification to HSE
  • Ensuring safe environment for workers
  • Health inspection with medical treatment and their records
  • Training and provision of plant and equipment.
  • Emergency procedures such as fire.
  • Undertaking specified roles by competent personnel. [6]

997 words Excluding, Front page, Table of contents, Headings/sub headings and references


[7] ASHRAE HANDBOOK [2006] Refrigeration-American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. Inch-pound edition, 1791 Tullie Circle, N.E., Atlanta, GA 30329.

[3]Cambridge refrigeration technology, Safety and Hazards in the Refrigeration Industry, pdf file [online] [Accessed on 05th February 2010]

[1]The Canon group, Innovative solutions for refrigerator manufacturing, pdf file [online] [Accessed on 05th February 2010].

[4]Environmental protection agency EPA, Recommended Practices for Minimizing HFC Emissions from Refrigerator-Freezer Factories, pdf file [online] [Accessed on 05th February 2010]

[2] Ezinearticles, Getting Cooler with Age - The Fridge [online] [Accessed on 05th February 2010]

[6] Health and Safety Executive, Work in Compressed Air Regulations 1996 [online] [Accessed on 5th February 2010]

[10] Holton, James R.; Curry, Judith A.; Pyle, John A [2003] Encyclopaedia of Atmospheric Sciences, Volumes 1-6, Elsevier.pp.2154-2155

[5] The Office of Government Commerce (OGC), OZONE DEPLETING REFRIGERANT GASES - NEW REGULATIONS AND REMINDER, pdf file [online] [Accessed on 10th February 2010]

[8] Shan K. Wang [1993] Handbook of Air-conditioning and refrigeration. Second edition, Mc-Graw Hill.