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Brewery Safety

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What is Brewery Safety?

Brewery Safety is the practice of ensuring a safe, working environment for employees and visitors in beer making operations. Breweries are abundant in safety risks, which can lead to costly lost-time injuries and penalties from authorities.

According to OSHA, common violations range from ergonomic injuries, confined spaces, PPE, lockout/tagout and forklift usage. Breweries should stay on top of safety regulations and develop safety protocols to mitigate risks of injuries and accidents that can result in legal problems that can cost breweries largely and even damage its reputation.    

In this article, we will answer the following questions: 

  • What are the top 5 hazards in the brewery industry & how to prevent them? 
  • What is a brewery health and safety program? 
  • What tools and resources can help boost safety and quality in breweries? 

Top 5 Hazards in Breweries & Steps you can Take to Prevent Them

Ergonomics

In breweries, the most common challenges to healthy ergonomics are repetitive motions; lifting heavy or awkward objects; and awkward postures caused by leaning, reaching, or bending. Ensuring good ergonomics for staff in breweries can reduce on-the-job injuries and work compensation costs and even boost productivity and employee morale. 

What you can do:

  • train workers with the proper lifting technique;
  • automate processes that involve lifting (e.g. use of hoists, conveyors, keg robots); and
  • use tools like standing mats, joint braces, or back braces to help support workers.

Slips, Trips, and Falls 

These are quite common for breweries and are heightened by physical hazards such as wet or slippery floors, elevated platforms, improperly stacked items, and more. They affect not only workers but the public as well such as customers, tour-goers, and outside contractors. 

What you can do:

  • Installment of railings to mitigate accidents when walking on stairways or elevated surfaces
  • Placement of cones on wet floors 
  • Placement of placards and signs to alert people or prohibit from potentially hazardous areas of the brewery
  • Painting lines on the floor to indicate where visitors are allowed and where they are not
  • Encouraging  brewery staff to wear proper PPE and non-slip shoes

Confined Spaces

Breweries run their operations with at least one or several confined space entries. According to OSHA, working in confined spaces has some of the most violated practices in the brewing industry, which in turn has resulted in numerous cases of serious injuries or illnesses. State and federal OSHA regulations require breweries to comply with safe practices when working in confined spaces to ensure the safety of both workers and visitors.

What you can do:

  • Understand the legal requirements for confined space safety and delegate a qualified person to access the facility and identify all known confined spaces.
  • OSHA requires a written Confined Space Permit Program which identifies and evaluates hazards that may be present. This involves testing atmospheric conditions of a confined space, and instructions for summoning rescue and emergency services.
  • Enforce employees to have a confined space entry permit before performing work in a confined space. Entry permits should be signed by the respective supervisor. 
  • Provide employees with the necessary training for working in a confined space. 

Powered Industrial Trucks 

Brewery operations often require the use of forklifts, pallet trucks and other types of powered trucks to transport raw materials, move and reach equipment, and lift heavy items. While they prove to be essential, their operation  also comes with hazards if not properly operated and maintained. Breweries should follow OSHA’s requirements for forklifts and powered trucks to protect employees from accidents and injuries.

What you can do:

Handling of Packed Gas and Chemicals

A major component in brewing are packed gases and caustic chemicals. If not properly handled, these supplies can open breweries to risks of fire and explosion, and endanger the health of both workers and visitors. 

What you can do:

  • Clearly label chemicals, especially those that are hazardous
  • Ensure chemicals are stored in a secured area with proper ventilation and posted warning signs
  • Stay on top of maintenance and cleanliness of cylinders and monitor gas pressure routinely
  • Use a lockout/tagout system to clearly mark tanks that are shut down for service
  • Use PPE (clothing, rubber gloves, goggles, and face shields) as recommended by safe work procedures

Developing a Health and Safety Program for Breweries

Regardless of the industry, Health and Safety is a moral obligation and a legal requirement. Having effective health and safety programs in place can help prevent incidents and even help mitigate their effects  in the event that they occur. Below are components of a health and safety program that breweries can refer to when building their own health and safety program: 

Managing Health and Safety Risks

To be able to manage health and safety risks in breweries, you must be able to identify first what these risks are. Managing health and safety risks involves three steps: 

  • Identifying hazards
  • Assessing the risks
  • Controlling Risks

Safe Work Procedures

Safe work procedures are written step-by-step description of performing a task safely. Below are examples of tasks in breweries that require a written safe work procedure:

  • Cleaning and sanitizing a tank
  • Boiling the wort in a brew kettle
  • Cleaning and sanitizing a bottling, canning, or packing line
  • Starting and troubleshooting a boiler
  • Operating a forklift or mobile equipment
  • Entering a tank
  • Filling a keg

Developing a written safe work procedure involves the following:

  • Determining the overall task
  • Breaking down the task into basic steps
  • Identifying hazards associated with each step
  • Identifying corrective actions to minimize risks to workers from these hazards
  • Listing down actions that workers must do when performing the task

Orientation, Education, Training and Supervision

Employers should provide workers with the appropriate training and ensure that they receive proper orientation before starting work. Written safe work procedures or safe work method statements can be used for training. Workers that are properly trained and understand health and safety guidelines and requirements minimizes risks for accidents and injuries. 

Workplace Inspections

Performing workplace inspections can help breweries become proactive in managing hazards and risks in the workplace. Inspections should be regularly done (at least a month) to prevent unsafe working conditions from developing. It should also be done when new processes are put into place, or when incidents occur. 

Incident Investigation

In cases that an accident or incident occurs in the workplace, incident investigations are done to determine the cause and next steps to take to prevent a recurrence. Incident investigations should be well written and documented as this will also help support insurance claim investigations.  

Health and Safety Meetings

Communicating health and safety issues with employers, supervisors and workers is vital for the success of a health and safety program. Safety meetings should be regularly done and should be recorded.

During safety meetings, bring and discuss the following: 

  • Latest inspection report
  • Record of incidents reports completed during the past month
  • New safe work procedures
  • Last month’s meeting

First Aid and Emergency Response

It is essential for all workplace to meet first aid requirements especially breweries that’s considered as a moderate-risk workplace. Therefore, employers should ensure that a first aid kit and first aid attendant is present on site. Having an emergency response protocol should also be in place. Both of these will help speed up the response to emergencies which in turn lowers chances of worsening injuries, or damages. minimize financial costs associated with extensive medical treatment.  

Records and Statistics

Employers are required to keep health and safety records on file. Keeping and maintaining documentation of health and safety records can help the business identify trends of unsafe conditions or work practices and use it as material for education and training of workers. Examples of health and safety records you should keep are the following: 

  • Risk assessment or hazard analysis reports 
  • Inspection reports
  • Monthly meeting records
  • Incident investigation reports
  • First-aid records 
  • Confined space entry permits
  • Equipment maintenance records
  • Etc. 
  •  

Stay on top of Brewery Safety with Technology 

Invest in brewery safety and keep compliant with health and safety regulations to avoid costly fines, employee and visitor injuries, and potential business closure. Make brewery inspections more efficient with a digital tool. iAuditor by SafetyCulture is a versatile checklist and inspections app that can support breweries in providing a healthy and safe environment for workers and visitors. 

With iAuditor, you can: 

  • Download ready-to-use brewery safety checklists from the public library or create them from scratch with our easy drag-and-drop template editor.
  • Perform and record brewery safety inspections using your mobile or tablet device 
  • Access inspection reports in real-time, anytime and anywhere. Comprehensive reports are automatically generated after completion of inspection and are securely stored in the cloud. 
  • Respond faster to incidents with corrective actions. Notify your team of issues you discover while doing an inspection and assign actions to address them sooner than later. 
  • Keep track of inspections across sites with Analytics. Easily gain insight on trends that matters to you (e.g., unsafe conditions in the workplace, common hazards and risks, etc.)

 

Author

Jai Andales

SafetyCulture staff writer

Jai is a content writer for SafetyCulture based in Manila. She has been writing well-researched articles about health and safety topics since 2018. She is passionate about empowering businesses to utilize technology in building a culture of safety and quality.