Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association
Supply · Service · Stewardship

Fall Ammonia Safety Reminders

As we prepare for the upcoming ammonia season, here are 12 key safety reminders to keep foremost in your mind when working with ammonia:
1.  Remember to always utilize your ammonia gloves and chemical splash goggles when working around ammonia.  Never wear contact lenses when working around anhydrous ammonia.
2.  Always assume ammonia is present in all equipment or hoses and thoroughly purge the ammonia prior to inspection or maintenance. 
3.  Inspect those ammonia hoses for any nicks, cuts, soft spots, and coupler slippage.
4.  Follow the replace by date indicated by the hose manufacturer and remember ammonia hoses cannot be repaired. 
5.  Make sure each nurse tank has 5 gallons of fresh clean water.  Additionally put a gallon water jug in your truck and tractor.
6.  Slow down!  No more than 25 mph when pulling ammonia tanks.
7.  Avoid congested or high traffic areas when pulling nurse tanks to and from the field of application.
8.  ALWAYS shut-off ALL nurse tank valves and disconnect transfer hoses before pulling onto a public roadway.  This is required by law.  You should never have a "charged" system when sharing the roadway.  
9.  Nurse tanks should not be operated in low light conditions or before or after sunset UNLESS you have a rotating, flashing amber light on the tank(s).  Today's motorists are not as familiar or patient with farm equipment even in rural Illinois, so it is always best if slow moving vehicles are kept off the roads during non-daylight hours. 
10.  Never forget the safety chains, even in the field of application.  Nurse tank trailers are put to the test during the ammonia season, being asked to serve as both highway vehicles and then being pulled through rough field conditions.  The safety chains can save you from catastrophe if the hitch fails!  Hook them up every time.  
11.  Are your break-away devices working on the applicators?  This is another safety mechanism designed to prevent releases, but they must be installed correctly and maintained so that they work.  Proper installation and preventive maintenance are key!     
12.  Never hesitate to make the call if you have an ammonia release.  A reportable quantity (RQ) for anhydrous ammonia is 100 pounds (18 gallons) or more.  If you are unsure you have met the RQ threshold, still make the call.  Tell the emergency operator exactly what has happened so that law enforcement and fire departments show up prepared to deal with ammonia.  Whoever is in possession of the ammonia tank at the time of the release must make this call immediately!   We can always help you later with the paperwork, but you can't undo someone being injured from ammonia exposure.  Click here to see the steps you need to follow if an ammonia release occurs.  
If you still need anhydrous ammonia safety training for new or part-time employees, IFCA offers an online Competent Attendant NH3 temporary training.  Go to to access the training.
If you have any questions contact John Rebholz at 309-827-2774 or