​Steps in Starting a Safety Program​

Brian Confer ​of​ Stormcloud​ said it seems so basic​ to have safety protocols in your brewery, but many don’t at the start.

“Wherever your program is​ at now,​ it can’t be much less than where ours was​,” the Michigan brewery owner recalled during a safety seminar at the 2022 Craft Brewers Conference in Minneapolis “When we transitioned from the pub into the production brewery —​ even before the equipment was in the production facility​ —​ the first thing I did was install safety glass holders at both entrances.

​”Even though we weren’t doing a great job of wearing PPE and safety glasses at the pub, every time we went into the production facility to do some prep work, we always put on our safety glasses. That’s how we started.​”​ 

​Confer, along with Ska‘s Jeff Mason and Canarchy’s Rachel Bell were among the presenters at the seminar​ and they shared how important creating a safety course can be as your brewery grows. It can start small like Confer pointed out with having a safety glass rack at the door. It eventually can lead to manuals and protocols.

​”​Once you got your guys doing that every day? It also sets the ground to bring in the next thing,” he said. “No shorts … even on a hot day. You can start to bring in the next step and the next step.”

The first thing you have to do is talk,” said Bell, who is the Safety Specialist for Canarchy along with sitting on the Brewers Association Safety Subcommittee. “It’s a communication thing. You have to get people together and you have to get them to tell you what’s wrong, and what they think solutions might be. 

READ MORE: Factors to Consider When Installing Dispensing Systems for Your Taproom

“That can be hard, because a lot of times, it’s creating communication pathways that did not previously exist. So like me, who was trying to get a voice for the part-time packaging team, who were most at risk and had no idea. But it’s also people in every department involved in a lot of breweries that don’t really have a direct line from like a salesperson to a brewer or cellerperson. “Open communication pathways first, so you know what’s going on and what you need to fix.”

Mason, who is the Plant Manager and HR Manager for Ska, said training is key.

“Making sure it’s part of the main part of our new employee onboarding is talking about safety so they get into it because a lot of people that have this dream of being in craft brewing haven’t done that, they don’t know the dangers,” he said as he discussed his experience with injuring his eye the first day he worked at a brewery.

Make it personal, he said, and have people tell their stories. A video created by Exxon’s Charlie Morecraft is one example of how even the utmost professionals need to be on guard while a more personal piece created in memory of Stone Brewing’s Matt Burning, who died in a forklift accident in 2013 can help your employees understand the dangers of working in the craft beer field.

“It’s really sad and powerful​,” Mason said of the video. “​We did have a warehouse supervisor who was very reluctant to wear the seatbelt on his forklift ​… and I showed him that video. ​From that day on​ he’s worn it. So we showed that to folks when they’re getting their portable certification​. It’s a powerful and personal reference.”

Ska also talks to new employees about what happens if you don’t want to wear your safety glasses.

“Is OSHA, or our workers’ comp, going to take care of you if you can’t work for six months? You can’t pay rent or mortgage … what’s your significant other gonna think that you can’t work anymore? Those are real things,” Mason said. “I think getting a protocol like that can be very impactful.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *