IIAR, RETA, GCCA, ASTI Form Coalition to Promote Natural Refrigerants

Safety, prevention, and emergency response readiness are top priorities within the natural refrigerant industry, and the Ammonia Safety Training Institute, IIAR, Global Cold Chain Alliance, and Refrigerating Engineers & Technicians Association have come together to form the Ammonia Safety Day Coalition.

“It is important for IIAR, RETA, and GCCA to partner with ASTI because we all represent key parts of the industry and have resources to help support the effort,” said Lowell Randel, senior vice president of government and legal affairs for the Global Cold Chain Alliance. “We all have a stake in safety, and it just makes sense for us to come together and leverage our resources and strengths to promote best practices and increase education and awareness.”

The Ammonia Safety Day Coalition is a joint effort to promote the tripod approach, which brings together industry, government, and public safety to prevent and mitigate the impacts of accidental ammonia releases. “Each of those parts of the tripod has a critical role to play in promoting the safe and
efficient use of ammonia and effectively responding when there is an incident,” Randel said.

Gary Smith, president, and CEO of ASTI, said working together enhances the entire focus of support that the four associations do daily. “The leaders from IIAR (standards and publications), RETA (operator training and certification), and the GCCA (governmental relations) have had a great working relationship for many years,” he said.

Gary Schrift, IIAR’s president, said the collaboration shows ammonia users that the major organizations agree on the same safety processes and overall safety of ammonia and promote safety.

The coalition also ensures that the Coalition-sponsored Safety Days and seminars meet specifications that all the organizations agree to be safe. “Consistency is important as you train people across the country,” Randel said.

ASTI drives and coordinates the safety days and provides most of the content. “ASTI is uniquely positioned to contribute on certain topics while RETA, GCCA, and IIAR are positioned in other topics,” Randel said. “We can leverage the strengths of the various partners to make sure the curriculum is as strong as possible.”


In addition to the Safety Day Alliance, the groups regularly communicate with government agencies through a separate OSHA alliance.

“GCCA entered into an alliance with OSHA, and IIAR has been a part of that from the beginning. Then GCCA brought RETA and ASTI into the alliance activities as well,” Randel said, adding that representatives from OSHA and EPA also participate in the calls. “That alliance has been very valuable in fostering good relationships with industry and OSHA and EPA.”

Those relationships are essential given the government’s role as one of the tripod’s three legs. “Our ability to work together is critical for the health and strength of the tripod to address critical issues,” Smith said, “For example, we are working with an OSHA team to create a better understanding of how to utilize industrial best practice SOPs, similar to findings of the 11th Circuit Court ruling in favor of the TECO (Tampa Electric inc.) responders use of their SOP for addressing emergency system control.”

Having regular communication with OSHA and EPA also helps directionally. “As the coalition plans its activities, OSHA can share its perspective and ideas,” Randel said. “Having OSHA involved also helps build broader awareness and participation at the local and regional levels.”

Additionally, the calls allow OSHA and EPA to see that industry groups have a cohesive safety message and information. “It is important to provide evidence that the industry can safely apply these natural but also hazardous chemicals as refrigerants,” he said.

During the calls, each coalition member gives an update on their association and shares any news or activities. The groups also discuss what is happening in the industry. “In one call, EPA and OSHA can learn what these organizations are working on or what they may have completed, such as a new training program or release a new guideline,” Schrift said.

In addition to providing an update, call participants discuss ASTI safety days, upcoming events and locations, and if and how IIAR, GCCA, and RETA could support the event with materials, personal attendance, and training. There is also time to discuss new business, such as work being done by ASTI for the safe transport of ammonia for new applications.

“When we have a safety day, we have that efficient mechanism to ensure the local OSHA and EPA representatives are invited, aware, and engaged,” Randel said. “Having them involved helps with overall planning but also with promotion and ensuring we have a broad scope.”


Mission: We exist to strengthen the Tripod relationship and communications between government, industry, and public safety by providing a forum to network and share insights, educate, and train on best practices regarding ammonia refrigeration system safety and related ammonia uses. Vision: To leverage Coalition member strength to support and enhance ammonia safety training to further benefit the world by expanding the safe use of ammonia as an environmentally friendly natural refrigerant and substance for use in many other applications.

Smith explained that the feedback received also shapes the strategy ASTI uses to address future tripod needs.


ASTI’s work and the industry collaboration are making a difference. “There are thousands of people who have been trained through this program and probably dozens of sessions over the years,”
Randel said.

Smith estimates that last year alone, ASTI impacted around 1,000 people with the Safety Day program, tabletop exercises, and training. “We also have 20 years of experience in doing Safety Days throughout the U.S., Canada, South America, and Australia,” Smith said.

Smith said each association’s work is evident in the Safety Day attendance, which averages about 100 people per event.