How Safe Is Your Brewery?

When the fermentation tank has a crack, it needs to be repaired.

So that’s exactly what a welder set out to do. But instead of setting things right at the brewpub, he set himself on a devastating path. The tank was oversaturated with oxygen, and when the welder lit his torch, flames erupted.

He managed to drag himself out of the tank, still on fire. And for 75 days he suffered from burns over much of his body, before at last succumbing to his injuries.

Of course, no business owner wants anyone on the team to suffer an injury — or worse. And it’s not exactly news that the brewing industry offers plenty of opportunity for injury, from pinch points to confined spaces to potential fireballs.

What you may not know is that the brewing industry actually does a pretty darn good job of preventing worker injury. In fact, recordable injuries and illness were on a downward trend, industry-wide, 2014-2017, with 2017 a record year — incidents plummeted 22.5% from the previous year.

The bad news? Brewery-related injury has not been eliminated entirely.

That’s not good news for your team—and it doesn’t do your business any good, either.

From high pressure systems to confined spaces, your team faces a number of hazards to perform the most basic brewery tasks. And from lockout/tagout policies to machine guards, you have the opportunity to help protect them from injury as they do so.

In this short article, we’ll take a look at some simple steps you can take to help keep your team safer on the job.

Provide the Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment

Do your workers need PPE to protect their hearing, their eyes, their hands or anything else? Have you trained your workers so that they know the situations when PPE is required, and how to use it properly? Have you made the necessary adjustments to your PPE policies to help prevent the spread of coronavirus?

Develop an Emergency Plan

Depending on where your brewery is, you face different types of natural disaster risks. Maybe you get hail storms every spring, lightning strikes are commonplace, or floods are a regular occurrence. Whatever type of risk you face, be sure your team knows what steps to take if disaster strikes while they’re on the job, or when they’re not.

Create a Safe Driving Program

Perhaps not all of your team travels for the business, but virtually all of your staff drives to get to work. And that means virtually all your staff could use reminders about how to stay safe behind the wheel.

Practice Good Housekeeping

Most general industry incidents involve slips, trips and falls, which is second only to motor vehicle incidents in numbers of fatalities. Slippery floors, elevated platforms, different types of floor surfaces and changes in floor elevation can easily result in slips, trips and falls at your brewery. So train staff never to run through the brewery, and to be aware of their surroundings (so they can avoid a slick spot or a hose that blocks their path); use cones to mark wet areas during brewing and clean-up; and ensure that walkways are clear and unimpeded by tools, buckets, packaging, and so on.

“OSHA compliance programs aren’t required for employees with 10 or fewer employees, so start-up and micro-breweries may not need to worry about them, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t worry about them,” said Kristian Beall of Beall Brewery Insurance.

“After all, establishing safety procedures and policies early on can allow a brewery to grow successfully, and safely.”

A safe workforce is a productive workforce, added Richard Beall, the principal of Beall Brewery Insurance, and not only when businesses are adapting quickly to new safety measures, as they are right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That’s why we created our Guide to Brewery Safety and Loss Prevention,” he said. “Brewery safety doesn’t have to be complicated, or expensive. We gathered together a lot of practical information and suggestions to help brewers keep their team safe … so they can focus on the task of brewing and serving happy customers.”

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