Steps to keep the brewery ‘family’ safe


Employers should take steps to help keep brewery workers safe.


With ever-evolving beer styles, breweries, taprooms and beer gardens, it’s been fun to join in the craft brewery revolution. When you witness the camaraderie, it becomes clear that many breweries are like a family. Employees are eager to spend many hours together developing new recipes, working late to fulfill the next day’s orders and developing efficiencies to keep up with increasing demand.

Along with the growth and excitement comes the need for safety and risk management. No one wants to see a family member suffer a serious injury, so it makes sense to look at some hazards employees face at the brewery on a daily basis.

Here is a summary of four of the leading violations of Occupational Health and Safety Administration standards that affect the industry, with a brief description of what an employer can do to manage each hazard.

Hazard Communication – 1910.1200 – Employees have a right to know about the hazardous chemicals they are exposed to in the brewing operation, including caustics and acids used in sanitation of the brewing process. They should receive safety training on proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and first aid response. They also should have access to all Safety Data Sheets for hazardous chemicals. Dispensed chemicals stored in containers such as spray bottles are subject to additional labeling requirements.

Lock Out Tag Out – 1910.147 – This standard addresses the practices and procedures for disabling machinery or equipment to prevent the release of hazardous energy during maintenance or servicing. Hazardous energy can include electrical, mechanical, hydraulic and pneumatic. Requirements include having a documented program, conducting employee training and identifying the specific equipment covered by this standard. Equipment in a brewery can include milling equipment, pumps, agitators, canning, bottling and packaging equipment.

Confined Space Entry – 1910.146Elements of this standard protects employees working in confined spaces, which are defined as a space with limited or restricted entry and exit and not intended for continuous occupancy. A permit entry process is required when the area has hazards of dangerous atmosphere; potential for being engulfed, entrapment or asphyxiation; or any other recognized serious hazard that could jeopardize the safety or health of an employee. Tanks and fermenters used for brewing can contain one or several of these hazards such as oxygen deficiency, mechanical agitators, hot surfaces and steam. Among the requirements, employers must:

  • define the confined spaces
  • designate those requiring permitted entry
  • create a specific procedure to isolate the hazard associated with the space
  • train employees
  • create a process to enter the space with safety controls for locking out energy and hazard sources
  • provide PPE for employees
  • conduct monitoring, rescue and emergency response

Powered Industrial Trucks – 1910. 178 – Breweries use forklifts and other mobile equipment to move heavy loads, totes, pallets of products and raw material. All operators must be trained on the equipment they’ll use by a qualified person with necessary experience and knowledge of the specific equipment. Training should be provided prior to operating the equipment and include classroom, skills and operator competency. Operator performance should be documented every three years, and retraining is required following any evidence of poor performance, near miss or accident or if conditions change.

These are only a few of the OSHA standards that apply to hazards that brewers and their employees face daily in their operations. The Occupational Safety and Health Act itself requires employers to provide a safe working environment free of recognized hazards and lists additional requirements for record- keeping and annual injury and illness postings. The complete list of OSHA violations for this industry can be found here.

This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article. Contact your local, independent insurance agent for coverage advice and loss control services.



Share This Blog:


Comments are closed.