Alliance Targets Safety in Ohio’s Growing Craft Brewing Industry

A new partnership is elevating workplace safety in Ohio’s expanding craft brewery industry.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is teaming with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Ohio’s craft brewery associations to form the Ohio Craft Brewery Alliance with the goal of raising awareness and developing safety education and training specific to the industry.

The Ohio Craft Brewers Association (OCBA), the Master Brewers Association of the Americas and the Brewers Association will join BWC and OSHA for a signing ceremony at 1 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 1 at Four String Brewing Company’s production facility at 660 N. Hague Ave. in Columbus. Participants in the new alliance will work together to provide education and support to brewery owners and their employees on safety and health issues specific to craft brewers, such as grain handling, keg filling, chemical exposure, and bottling, canning and delivery.

“As safety professionals, we must react quickly to meet the needs of employers in emerging industries that are still perfecting processes and learning important safety lessons as they grow,” said Dr. Abe Al-Tarawneh, chief of BWC’s Division of Safety and Industrial Hygiene. “This alliance will help employers in Ohio’s budding craft brewery industry assess their workplaces and correct hazardous conditions that have the potential to cause injury.”

BWC will connect participating breweries to the array of safety resources and programs available through its Division of Safety & Hygiene and OSHA On-Site Consultation program. The agency’s workplace safety professionals, industrial hygienists and ergonomists help businesses develop and maintain effective safety-management programs – all at no additional charge to the employer.

“In addition to safety challenges common to all manufacturers, breweries face unique risks associated with material handling and difficult working surfaces as well as exposure to scalding liquids and electrical systems in wet areas,” said Matt Stinchfield, safety ambassador for the Brewers Association. “The alliance will unify efforts to support safety in Ohio breweries and we are optimistic it will also reduce injuries and increase business efficiencies.”

Stinchfield said the associations will promote safe work practices through outreach to their members, and facilitate training and education at craft breweries across the state.

“Brewery safety is of paramount importance to our growing industry,” said Mary MacDonald, OCBA’s executive director. “Providing the resources and guidance to ensure a safe working environment for employees is a big part of OCBA’s mission to empower Ohio’s independent breweries to sustain and improve their craft.”

The craft beer industry is flourishing in Ohio. Ohio has 278 craft breweries with at least 65 more known to be under development. The state ranks fifth among the states in craft beer production with the craft beer industry supporting more than 15,000 jobs and an economic impact of $2.6 billion.

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