Simple Steps You Can Take to Keep Your Team Safer on the Job

stevens point brewing

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 succumbing to his injuries.
Of course, no business owner wants anyone on the team to suffer an injury. 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.
However, it’s not exactly common knowledge that the brewing industry actually does a pretty darn good job of preventing worker injury, compared to previous years anyway. In fact, recordable injuries and illness were on a downward trend, industry-wide, 2014-2017 — with 2017 a record year: incidents plummeted 22.5 percent 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, especially now that OSHA has given a cost-of-living adjustment to its penalties. For instance, the maximum penalty for a serious violation was $12,934 last year. That number jumped to $13,260 on January 23.
From high pressure systems to confined spaces, your team works in hazardous areas 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 article, we’ll take a look at some simple steps you can take to keep your team safer on the job.

Provide the Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
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?

Develop an Emergency Plan
Depending on where your brewery is, you face different types of natural disaster risks. Perhaps you get hail storms every spring, lightning strikes are commonplace or floods are regular occurrences. Whatever type of risk you face, be sure your team knows what steps to take if disaster strikes while they’re on the clock — or even when they’re not.

Create a Safe Driving Program
The team may not travel long distances on a regular basis, but most likely all of your staff drives to get to work. And that means all of 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 accidents at your brewery. You should train staff never to run through the brewery and to be aware of their surroundings; use cones to mark wet areas during brewing and clean-up; ensure that walkways are clear and unimpeded by tools, buckets, packaging and other obstacles.
“OSHA compliance programs aren’t required for employees with 10 or fewer employees, so start-up and microbreweries may not need to worry about them — but that doesn’t mean they don’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, principal of Beall Brewery Insurance. “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, so we gathered 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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