Originally published on www.CraftBrewingBusiness.com
Written by Scott Jimenez & Karl Ockert
Caustic burns on the skin. Splashing in the eyes. Hate to say it, but these accidents do occur in the craft brewing industry. Most — if not all — are preventable. A brewhouse presents many employee safety issues, and with OSHA paying unexpected visits around the country, now is a great time to push brewery safety to the forefront. Here is a look at some best practices that breweries may be able to implement to stay ahead of the game.
1. Post and review SDS Sheets/Safety Data Sheets (formerly known as “Material Safety Data Sheets”)
Ensure this information is not only visible and available for all employees, but also that employees know what they are and where they can be found. In the event of an emergency, the SDS sheets contain crucial information from first aid to spill containment and Personal Protective Equipment. Make it a practice to review with employees on a regular basis or ask your chemical provider for assistance. Zep also offers an SDS site, here.
2. Conduct chemical safety training regularly
OSHA requires this training, and we advise that trainings be held on a quarterly basis as well as with new employee training. This can and should include training on protective gear, proper use of cleaning chemicals, storage and handling. Rely on and ask your suppliers for assistance with this. Your workers compensation insurance may look favorably on this practice — reduced accidents could lead to reduced rates — and it may even be able to help provide the training.
3. Post and train employees on GHS and product warnings
With the new Global Harmonized System (GHS) in place, safety hazards for chemicals are now more readily identifiable. Hazards are now communicated using a Signal Word, Hazard and Precautionary Statement and Pictograms. These are found on labels and SDS sheets.
4. Label and use secondary containers properly
Did you know that OSHA can impose a fine for each unlabeled bottle with chemical product in it? Secondary containers are used to transport any kind of cleaning or sanitizing chemicals around the brewery. These may be anything from plastic jugs to spray bottles. Ensure that any and all vessels that you use to transport chemicals around your brewery carry a Secondary Container Label, which are provided by chemical suppliers. This label identifies what is in that container, so, should an accident occur, someone can relay what solution was involved. Many Secondary Labels are laminated and can easily be attached using a zip tie or an adhesive label. To avoid incidental splashing, be sure to use secondary containers with screwcaps. And do not use the same secondary container to carry different types of chemicals. Have specific containers for caustics, acids and sanitizers. Using the same container for different chemicals may cause a reaction and form a hazard, e.g., bleach and acid make chlorine gas.
5. Use PPE
PPE, or personal protective equipment, is probably the single most important protection each brewery employee can use. Get everyone into the habit of wearing the appropriate personal safety equipment when measuring out or using chemicals, e.g, eye protection, rubber or nitrile gloves, boots or chemically resistant footwear, and aprons or clothing to cover bare skin. Eye protection hanging around your neck or stuck in a pocket will not protect your eyes from a chemical splash!
6. Use proper first aid when incidental chemical contact occurs
Always consult the SDS for immediate first aid guidelines. Incidental caustic contact to skin needs to be neutralized quickly. Some people use beer to neutralize caustic, then rinse off thoroughly with water. For incidental acid, bleach or peroxide contact, rinse with water immediately. For any kind of eye contact with chemicals, irrigate with water and get immediate medical attention. Wearing safety glasses/goggles and gloves at all times when handling any chemical can prevent many of these incidents from happening.
7. Automate dispensing of chemicals
Automating chemical dispensing can greatly reduce and limit exposure of chemicals to employees and ensure the exact chemistry needed for every cleaning job. This increases employee safety while ensuring your chemical costs stay in line. Your chemical supplier should be able to offer you advice and help with dispensing solutions.
8. Take precaution when mixing chemicals by hand
Always mix chemicals to water — NOT water to chemicals! Add the chemicals gradually to avoid causing a dangerous chemical reaction. When mixing caustic powder into water, the starting temperature of the water will start to rise as the chemical is added. Added too quickly, it will boil out. NEVER MIX ACIDS WITH CHLORINE BLEACH as they can create a deadly chlorine gas. Stick to and implement Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for cleaning and chemical use. Do not get creative with mixing chemicals without consulting your chemical supplier.
9. Cover the tank manway during CIP cleaning
When cleaning a tank with recirculation (CIP), make sure the tank manway is positioned to cover the opening. In-swing, manway door gaskets should be taken off and draped with the door swung inside the tank, covering the opening.
10. Burst rinse properly
Burst rinse for best water conservation and most complete rinsing action. Rinse for 30 to 60 seconds, drain and repeat until you get to neutral pH (7-8). Always rinse to a neutral pH. Use litmus paper, a pH meter or use phenolthalein. If it’s purple, keep rinsing.
This is a short list of some best practices in brewhouses today and is by no means comprehensive. If you are not sure where to start, ask your chemical suppliers to provide help and guidance. You do not have to do this on your own. Chemical suppliers will do site visits and can help identify areas to improve the overall safety of a brewery. We all want our breweries to be safe working environments. With state regulators and OSHA looking more closely at the craft brew segment, now is a perfect time to up our game when it comes to brewery safety.
Scott Jimenez is the director of sales at Zep Inc. Karl Ockert is a brewing consultant with Karl Ockert Brewing Services, LLC. For more information about Zep Craft Brewing Solutions, visit www.zepbrew.com.
Reblogged from TheBrewerMagazine.com (written by Jon Sicotte)
Kerry Thomas, the head brewer at Edge Brewing in Boise, Idaho, probably went to work on July 10 with the usual amount of care that any brewer has when it comes to safety — be watchful, be careful and follow the rules like she had every brew day.
But during that brewing session of a Double IPA named Obligatory, the 15-barrel brew kettle got to boil, hops were added and a boil-over started. Thomas turned, just a second from her favorite beer to make sure everyone else was out of range and was greeted with a wave of boiling wort as she turned back around.
She jumped from the brewstand as fellow employees doused her with cold water. But, the damage was done.
Thomas, who received seven skin grafts about a week later after being rushed to the Burn Center at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, had second and third degree burns to 30 percent of her body, including her right arm, shoulder and parts of her torso. Her husband, Cory, said through their GoFundMe account that only 66 percent of burn victims with that amount of damage live. “I’m glad we didn’t know this statistic until today,” he wrote on August 4.
Steve Koonce, the Director of Sales and Marketing at Edge, said that Thomas has a long road ahead of her, but she is key in the success of the 1,200 bbl. brewery. He hopes by sometime in September that she can return to the brewery, if not to work, at least to share a smile and maybe some brewing knowledge.
“It will be important to have her back, but it’s going to be up to her and her husband Cory to be 100 percent that she can take care of herself. That’s first,” he said. “She really wants to come back and all we have talked about is brewery operation when we talk.
“We have some important dates coming up and she is invested in the company. At the same time she knows the most important thing is that she gets better.”
For Koonce, he said he’s seen his share of accidents that require a trip to the emergency room. Burns, breaks and scrapes happen, of course, but it’s reducing the chance of those daily that’s what owners and managers strive for.
For Edge, Koonce said the nearly two-year-old brewery has already begun the process of purchasing a sensor for the kettle that indicates a boil over with a killswitch. A cold-water shower is going to be built closer to the brewstand, even closer than the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard.
“We are going to look into a lot of stuff to make sure that something like this could never happen again,” he said. “I can say with a level of confidence that this will not happen again.”
Although OHSA did have to get involved with Edge Brewing, it’s a rare occurrence throughout the United States. In a public record search of OSHA’s database, in the past five years only six major accidents have occurred in a brewery setting, with just one leading to death. That happened after a Boston Beer Co. employee was struck by a forklift and died after complications during surgery. The other instances led to either burns, cuts or fractures.
In a separate search, only eight breweries in the country have been cited for violations by OSHA since January 1, 2014 with 54 total serious level violations.
Thomas’ story is rare, but major accidents can happen in an industrial setting like a brewhouse. Minimizing risk of injury to not just employees, but patrons as well is key.
Fred Maier, the owner and vice president of Pittston, Pennsylvania-based Susquehanna Brewing says along with keeping patrons safe, keeping his employees safe through the brewing process is just as key. “We put steel-mesh grates over anything hot,” he said, noting heat exchangers. “We cover things up where you could really burn yourself. You can feel the heat radiating off of it. God forbid someone just brushed against it.”
Susquehanna has been listed as a top 10 place to take a brewery tour in a list published online by USA Today. Maier said the 10,000 bbl. brewhouse that has been open for three years is very adamant when it comes to warning the public during the tour that action is happening all around them.
“If it’s shiny it could be hot. Don’t touch anything, use common sense,” said Maier, who runs an hour-long tour on Saturdays. “Our brewhouse is on a raised floor that is painted caution yellow. It’s constantly reminding people to please watch their step.”
The hardest functions can be outside the realm of tours when dealing with the public. Fundraisers or other private events bring in, sometimes, a different clientele. “There is one thing when you go on a brewery tour, you kind of know what to expect. It’s another thing when someone comes to a function, a mixer, they don’t think of it being in an industrial space,” Maier said. “We have done a good job of covering up things and making sure floor drains and things like that are in place.
“They are simple precautionary and they cost a little money upfront but it takes a lot of danger of people walking around off the floor.”
Maier said that Susquehanna has ‘a pretty healthy’ insurance umbrella policy. “We consider the brewery our number one salesman so we … wanted to move thousands of people through it over the course of a year. So it was built into the insurance to keep ourselves out of a jam.”
Although they do not have a set policy, Maier said that Susquehanna rarely sees parents bringing children to the tours, but they don’t turn them away. They just make sure to tell parents to keep an eye on precocious children.
“I have kids, so I know what it’s like,” he said. “You have to remember it’s a working brewery but that is few and far between [where parents bring kids]. If it happens once or twice a year that is a lot.”
Although Koonce said Edge Brewing will have to pay more in insurance premiums because of the accident to Thomas, it doesn’t hurt the brewery too much moving forward. After a solid first year and many upgrades to increase capacity to about double its 2014 output, Koonce said it will hurt Edge’s bottom line for a while, but it will recover. And it will do so with even more safety measures in mind.
“We don’t take workplace safety lightly anyway from the brewers to the restaurant staff,” he said. “We are going make sure the brewers know what can happen … when they are trained they are going to watch the boil. Don’t try to do more than that at once.
“If we have to do something to be safer, we are going to do it. We can’t have something happen again where we lose someone like Kerry who is so important to our business. She makes the beer! She’s the one that had made all of it up to this point. We aren’t going to mess around after this particular accident and we don’t want it to happen again.”
You have a lot of responsibilities running a brewery and have to wear many different hats. Sometimes, keeping safety in mind and reducing risk to the brewery and its employees can go by the wayside. To help, our brewery insurance specialists here at Regnier Insurance put together a free Safety Resources & Best Practices Powerpoint for Breweries which you can download for FREE below (Click Here to Download).
For the easiest, quickest, & most enjoyable insurance quote you've ever experienced, click below:
During brewery tours, harvest, bottling days, and special events/festivals, many breweries & wineries utilize volunteers to help. While this can be a cost efficient form of adding extra labor, it also presents your brewery/winery with additional liability. By allowing volunteers to help with your brewery/winery operations, you become liable for any bodily injury or property damage that occurs to or on conjunction with the volunteers. In order to protect yourself, we suggest having each volunteer sign a volunteer waiver form or "Prospective Release, Indemnity, & Hold Harmless Agreement." We've drafted up a form you can download below and encourage you to use it the next time your brewery/winery utilizes volunteers.
Click Here: VOLUNTEER WAIVER FORM FOR BREWERIES
Click Here: VOLUNTEER WAIVER FORM FOR WINERIES