Ammonia training program wins national safety award

Published: Nov 05, 2021

Anhydrous ammonia (NH3) is a critical product used to fertilize our growers’ fields, increase their crop yields and support global food security. However, it’s also a hazardous gas, so it must be handled correctly to mitigate risk.

When working with ammonia, personal protective equipment is a must, but the best tool for preventing incidents and responding correctly if they do occur is effective training.

That’s why Nutrien Ag Solutions’ Safety, Health and Environment team designed comprehensive, in-house ammonia training tailored to the needs and protection of our North American Retail employees.

These efforts were recognized by the National Safety Council and we’re proud to have been named the winner of the 2021 Green Cross Safety Advocate Award.

“We always take the time to work safely, especially to ensure that we’re safely handling products,” says John Horne, Vice President, Safety, Health and Environment. “Receiving this recognition from the National Safety Council is an honor and I’m proud of our employees for prioritizing the safety and protection of each other, our growers, neighbors and communities.”

Stepping up our safety training

Across our North American Retail business, nearly 4,000 employees at 600 locations handle close to one million tons of ammonia each year.

“Our workers are performing more than 500,000 process connections of NH3 per year, and if done incorrectly, this presents a lot of opportunity for exposure,” explains Matt Kirby, Senior Manager of Safety, Health and Environment for Nutrien Ag Solutions’ West Region.

That’s why Matt stepped up as the project lead for the NH3 working team with the mission of revamping the current training.

“The team took a collaborative and inclusive approach and put people at the heart of the process, just as they should be in any safety matter,” he says. “We built trust by consulting stakeholders, enlisting subject matter experts and, most importantly, involving frontline workers to ensure the solution worked for them.”

Based on best practices shared across our operations, the team created a new anhydrous ammonia operating standard designed for workers in the field. Team members partnered with the technical training group to deliver nine innovative e-learning modules to employees and reinforce the training through hands-on observation in the field to verify competence through open dialogue, critical thinking and feedback.

Since the new training program was implemented last year, more than 17,000 modules have been completed by more than 2,000 employees.

“This industry-leading program is the result of advocating for the needs of thousands of workers who frequently handle this dangerous substance,” says Matt. “The training program is bringing our Culture of Care to life because we’re focused on looking out for one another and living our core value of safety.”