President’s Message by Dave Rule

One of IIAR’s most important responsibilities is advocating on behalf of our members on state and federal policy. I’m happy to report that in 2014 we stepped up our efforts even more in this realm and we’ve been working closely with government regulatory agencies to provide them with our expertise in a number of different ways.

In addition, our efforts to develop standards are having a direct impact on our industry. By continuing to shape codes and provide guidelines that will improve the efficiency and safety of ammonia refrigeration systems, we’re moving towards an exciting future in the next several years.

As you know, this year a presidential directive was issued to OSHA, the EPA and the Department of Homeland Security to review their regulatory programs in the aftermath of the West, Texas explosion. The whole chemical industry has been tasked with reviewing safety regulations and to consider where they may need to modify and write new regulatory directives. In response, first OSHA then the EPA and finally, the Department of Homeland Security each issued Requests for Information, or RFI’s, formally seeking input from our industry on a number of proposed changes.

To respond to these RFI’s, IIAR formed a task force to provide input on behalf of our industry to all three agencies. We also reached out to various associations around the industry – such as RETA, the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association, and others involved in cold storage and food processing – to review these requests from our regulatory agencies and sign on to formulate a united response. And throughout this process, we met personally with representatives from OSHA to discuss our recommendations and the industry overall.

Creating this dialogue has been an effective process that will continue to impact our future interactions with these agencies in a very positive way.

Along with our growing profile and influence in the regulatory realm, 2014 was a big year for standards development. Through the ANSI process, we’ve been working to rewrite and expand existing IIAR standards to finalize a suite of eight standards for our industry.

The most time-consuming part of this effort has been the development of the revised IIAR-2 standard, the overall safety standard for design of closed loop refrigeration systems, and probably the largest and most important standard of them all.

After we completed our second public review of IIAR-2, OSHA offered to look at a draft and provide comments. IIAR representatives were invited to OSHA headquarters with the standards committee to meet with the enforcement team and to have a discussion about their suggestions.

Once again, this process marks a growing collaboration between IIAR and OSHA and is promoting a valuable exchange of ideas and development of solutions. Once again, this process marks a growing collaboration between IIAR and OSHA and is promoting a valuable exchange of ideas and development of solutions. As a follow-up to that meeting, IIAR invited members to meet with OSHA on December, 1, 2014, to discuss their thoughts on RAGAGEP and how it should be defined for both current and new construction facilities, yet another example of how OSHA values our member’s views on these key topics.

At the state level, we have recently been very active in New Jersey, which has its own toxic substance regulations that cover ammonia refrigeration.

IIAR, IARW and RETA are working with the New Jersey Department of Labor and the Department of Environmental Protection on a pilot program to develop a standardized education curriculum for industrial ammonia refrigeration technicians at the community college level.

You can read more about this effort in the cover story of this issue of the Condenser.

Not only would this ease some of the regulatory burdens we face surrounding training, but it will also represent a huge move forward in our efforts to develop the technician skills pipeline for our industry. Because the curriculum can be used as a template for other training programs at community colleges around the country, we can use our industry training resources to help young people learn the real skills that will lead directly to employment within our industry.

These efforts and more show how important our members are in shaping our industry and if you are an IIAR member, I would like to thank you and tell you how grateful we are for your time, expertise and support.

For non-members reading this column, I encourage you to get involved by becoming an IIAR member. Once a member, you too can support our advocacy programs by joining committees and commenting on standards or help in the development of technical manuals and building codes.

Your voice is needed. Join us and together we will continue to take the lead in the regulatory activities and standards development that ultimately define the safety and efficiency of our technology, both now and in the coming years.