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New risk advisory on the dangers of oxygen deficiency when using asphyxiants as refrigerants 

Published on: February 10, 2023

Workplaces that use refrigerants in sufficient quantities may experience a leak or containment failure and put workers at a significant risk of asphyxiation.

Asphyxiants are gases used in refrigeration that reduce the level of oxygen available for breathing, generally displacing normal air. Refrigerants may be used in the following workplaces:

  • Food and beverage processing and manufacturing
  • Cold storage facilities
  • Restaurants, bars, ice cream shops
  • Ice rinks and curling rinks
  • Ice manufacturers
  • Supermarkets
  • Workplaces using extraction processes
  • Metal fabrication
  • Laboratories
  • Oil and gas extraction and manufacturing
  • Chemical manufacturing
  • Semiconductor manufacturing
  • Health care (laboratories, cryogenic therapy)

Our new risk advisory, Dangers of oxygen deficiency when using asphyxiants as refrigerants, lists common refrigerants that can cause an oxygen-deficient atmosphere and the health effects that can occur at low oxygen levels. It encourages employers to perform a risk assessment and provides measures — following the hierarchy of controls — that can help reduce risks posed by asphyxiants.

Visit our managing risk webpage to learn more about managing risk.