Safe Arena Refrigeration Plant Operator

The Walkerton Tragedy is a series of events that accompanied the contamination of the water supply of Walkerton, Ontario, Canada, by Escherichia coli bacteria in May 2000. At the time of the event Stan Koebel was manager and Frank Koebel was water foreman. Neither had any formal training in this position, retaining their jobs through three decades of on-the-job experience. The water supply became contaminated with the highly dangerous e-coli and seven people died in the community from drinking the water supply. 

What was learned from the Walkerton water plant operational tragedy is that every mechanical plant room requires a person who is responsible for its safe operation. What the community leaders of Walkerton failed to have was the benefit of hindsight. Had they been aware of the shortcomings in their operation, surely they would have responded to correct the staff competency and general day to day operational issues that had become, by default, “standard operating practice”. In the wake of this tragedy a comprehensive provincial water plant training certification program for water plant operators has now been developed and implemented to ensure there is never a repeat of these events in any Ontario community The ORFA continues to be concerned regarding the ongoing departure of ice arena senior staff, increased pressure to be internally financially responsible, aging refrigeration plant rooms and the increased installation of “self-contained” (skid) refrigeration plants to circumvent set level of competency under the Operating Engineer Regulation (OER). Further, the lack of ongoing professional development by some Chief Operators and Refrigeration Operator Class-B specific to the ice arena industry raises additional alarm. 

This workshop will unfold an industry specific set training and accreditation plan for persons who have care and control of an unattended (guarded) ice arena refrigeration plant as well as a recommended recertification plan for persons who have Chief Operator responsibilities or B-Certificate responsibilities in an Ontario ice arena that was awarded more than 5-years ago. 

It is important to note that when set legislative responsibility fails to specifically exist that all governing authorities will seek out and consider recommendations, best practices and guidelines from industry leaders. What is being proposed could be used during an inspection, incident or accident at an Ontario ice arena.

Who should attend:

  • Owners of an ice arena refrigeration plant (defined in the OER as the mayor, clerk or their designate) 
  • Community health and safety professional 
  • Chief Operators and B-Certificate holders to understand the proposed recertification program 
  • Persons responsible for the safe operation of a self-contained (skid) refrigeration plant 
  • Any person that may have a formal or informal responsibility to interact with the refrigeration contractor in the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of an ice arena refrigeration plant

Upcoming SARPO Events

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