Technical Corner

A History of Ice Sheet Refrigeration Plant Logbook Data Collection

February 2022

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.

  • Every user of a plant shall keep in the plant a log in the form of a book or electronic log.
  • The logbook should identify the “user” and “owner” as set out in the OE.
  • The logbook shall be bound and constructed so that the pages are numbered and cannot be removed and shall be large enough to accommodate all the required entries.
  • Only operators trained to industry standards should be permitted to conduct refrigeration plant room inspections and logbook entries.
  • The names of the plant operators who have been trained by the plant user to conduct plant inspections with their sample signatures shall be entered on the logbook’s signature page.
  • Only those persons identified in the logbook may make entries in the plant logbook.
  • The plant service contractor may make logbook entries if directed by the plant user or owner.
  • The plant users shall determine how many plant checks and logbook entries shall be made each shift pending on plant design, known issues or others matters that may impact plant function.
  • Industry best practice for ice sheet refrigeration plants is currently no less than three (3) times each 8-hours of open operations.
  • The date and the times at which the shift begins and ends.
  • Any instructions for staff, along with the name of the person giving the instructions.
  • Any change from normal operating procedure and the time of such change.
  • Any unusual or abnormal conditions observed in the plant and the time they were observed.
  • Documentation of any repairs or maintenance to any part of the plant, the times the repair or maintenance took place, if they were completed and who attended at the repair or maintenance.
  • Any malfunction of any item or equipment, the time of the occurrence and any remedial action taken to correct the malfunction.
  • Any work performed by plant operating personnel outside the plant, the time spent and who attended at the work.
  • The plant user shall determine what plant operational data shall be collected and recorded to assist in plant maintenance, public safety, and life cycle planning.
  • The entry of any unauthorized person to the plant, together with the purpose of the entry and the time of entry and leaving.
  • All logbook entries shall be in ink and any corrections shall not be erased but crossed out, corrected and initialed.
  • No person shall deface, damage, destroy or, without the permission of the owner or user, remove the logbook from the plant.
  • The plant user or designate shall read and sign the log at least once each business day.
  • The plant user shall ensure that the logbook is kept accessible in the plant for at least three years after the last entry is made and shall produce the logbook for examination upon the request of an inspector and, where an electronic log is kept by the user, the user shall retain the electronic log or hard copies for at least three years.

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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