I made my first plant room logbook entry in September 1979, and every 2-hours after that until I left the frontlines and became management. At that point, I directed staff to follow the 2-hour plant check schedule. I was led to believe by those responsible for mentoring me that this was some form of legal obligation to be met and I held that belief until it was dispelled in February 2022. Seems there is no such legal requirement. To begin to understand the history and how we got to what is actually industry best practice, we need to understand attended, unattended and guarded refrigeration plants. Up until 1999, all industrial plants over 100hp were considered registered attended plants. This means that they required a Chief Operator and certified operator support staff who held a provincially recognized Certification B Industrial Plant certificate. All plants below 101hp were designated unattended refrigeration plants. In 1999, the 100hp threshold was raised to 200hp making all plants under 201hp unattended plants. Regardless of horsepower, all refrigeration plants were “guarded” by a series of safety devices that would shut the plant down if the safe level of operation setting of these devices were exceeded. It was and remains a balance of technology and human interaction to confirm the plant safe operation.
Often the requirement to have and maintain a refrigeration plant logbook is confused by the persons responsible to ensure that one is in place. Section 37 of the Operating Engineers Regulation (OE) sets out the requirements of having a logbook and the minimum requirements for information that must be inserted. In an attended plant, it would be the Chief Operators responsibility to select or design a logbook that meets the needs for their plant design. The Chief would then train all operators on how to complete the selected plant log.
In an unattended plant, it becomes the responsibility of the owner or user, as defined in the OE, to decide what type of logbook will be used and who is permitted to make observations and entries. There is a lack of specific direction from the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) on what is expected for unattended plant logbook entries. To be clear, TSSA does not require any reading to be placed in a logbook. Traditional suction and discharge pressures, secondary refrigerant temperatures and pressures, primary refrigerants in an evaporator, secondary fluctuation in an overflow tank, are all positive data to be collected and used by plant maintainers or service contractors to determine plant function and health but not legally required to be regularly monitored. To simplify expectation, incidents, accidents, repairs, or adjustments must be recorded. Any additional detail is an operational decision.
To simplify the role of the logbook, the following industry best practices should be considered for unattended registered ice sheet refrigeration plants. The black font represents a direct transfer from the OE with some slight editing to speak to unattended plants. The red font is a reflection of ORFA best practices. The information is shared as guidance only as each plant owner or user must design their own policy and/or procedures.
Note: at the time of release, the ORFA is working directly with TSSA to consider providing specific guidance on several matters associated with our industry. Stay tuned for updates as they come available.
Comments and/or Questions may be directed to Terry Piche, CRFP, CIT and Technical Director, Ontario Recreation Facilities Association
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