BREW TALK: The Power of a Brewery Safety Plan

Every business needs a safety plan to try to prevent employee injury — and keep work comp costs low. And in the majority of US states, that safety plan is encouraged, or even required. For nearly 30 years, for instance, California businesses have been required to keep — and follow! — a written and effective Illness and Injury Prevention Program, or IIPP.
Whether or not your brewery is required to create and utilize such a safety plan, though, is not the point. The point is that a solidly constructed safety plan — a living document that you and your team can rely on to really provide the guidelines to keep everyone safe — is not only a good idea, but an outstanding first step in striving to lower your workers’ compensation insurance costs.
There are a number of components a great safety plan should include, but for reasons of space, we’ll just focus on two very important ones: hazard assessment and correction, and accident investigations.

Hazard Assessment and Correction at Your Brewery
How does your brewery identify, evaluate, and prevent occupational safety and health hazards?
First of all, you’ll want to review any applicable federal, state, and municipal regulations with which your brewery must comply. You’ll also want to take a look at general information on potential hazards — for instance, Safety Data Sheets for hazardous substances used at your brewery.
More importantly, you have to determine how you will deduce whether or not your brewery is actually complying with all these regulations and guidelines.

  • How often will you inspect all the work areas in your brewery?
  • Who will conduct those inspections, and how?
  • How will the results of those inspections be documented?
  • How will your brewery take steps to eliminate hazards discovered by such inspections, and on what timeline?

“Standardized policies are key to your brewery successfully identifying and eliminating hazards,” noted Kristian Beall, AAI, of Beall Brewery Insurance.
“But it’s also important to look back on worker injuries that have occurred in your own brewery, and in other breweries that you’re familiar with. It’s not difficult to look back on which hazards caused those injuries, so you’ll want to be sure those particular hazards are addressed immediately.”

Accident Investigations at Your Brewery
Of course, it’s your goal to prevent all injury at your brewery! But things happen, and despite your best intentions, injuries may occur. If one does, you need to have policies in place for investigating that incident, so you can provide detailed information to your workers’ comp insurance company. Equally important: you’ll want to take corrective actions to ensure no other workers will be injured in that way.
Your brewery team needs to be thoroughly trained in these procedures, so that they know:

  • Who to report a worker injury to, and on what timeline.
  • What actions that supervisor must take upon receiving report of a worker injury.
  • How an accident investigation is conducted, and on what timeline.
  • How corrective actions will be administered.

“The accident investigation is key to your brewery’s ongoing safety—and to managing your workers’ comp costs,” said Richard Beall, principal of Beall Brewery Insurance.
“We work with breweries all across the country, and we have seen firsthand that the breweries with solidly constructed safety plans — and the worker training programs necessary for their staff to understand and comply with those plans — are the ones who have the lowest work comp costs.
“Why? On the one hand, those breweries are preventing injuries from happening in the first place. And on the other hand, their workers know brewery leadership has a consistent system for preventing and reporting worker injury, and correcting work-related hazards — so they know their chances of succeeding in filing a false injury report are very, very slim.”

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