We are pleased to announce that effective October 1, 2016 our agency ownership has changed. Ted Regnier has decided to officially retire and has sold his interest in Regnier & Associates, Inc. Regnier & Associates was founded in 1982 by Cynthia Regnier and has specialized in specialty insurance programs since 1985. We have had much growth and success over the past 30 years and we sincerely thank YOU, our customers, for the trust you have placed in us and the opportunity you have given us to serve you.
The new agency owners are Barbara Marzean, Stephanie Dew and Glenn Hastings, all of whom have been with the firm for many years. Along with this new ownership, the agency name is now WinStar Insurance Group LLC.
Barbara Marzean has been with Regnier for more than 30 years and has served as the President since 2005. She will continue to serve as the President of WinStar. Stephanie Dew has been with Regnier since 2010 and has served as the Director of Sales & Marketing. Steph will serve as VP/Director of Sales & Marketing for WinStar. Glenn Hastings has been with Regnier for over 15 years as an outside Sales Associate for the Houston area. Glenn will serve as VP/Senior Sales Associate for the Houston area for WinStar.
With this change, there is no change in staff or the way we operate and we will continue to offer the same service and products as we provided under “Regnier Insurance”. We are excited for the future and we want to thank all of our friends and customers for your continued loyalty and trust!
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.
It has all the makings of a Hollywood mafia movie. Unidentified individuals broke into the SweetWater Brewery on Ottley Drive in Atlanta this June, hooked truck tractors to sitting trailers full of SweetWater beer and hit the road.
For beer lovers, we can tease a happy ending – as much of the $90,000 haul of beer was recovered. Unfortunately, after its recovery, SweetWater declared the beer unfit for sale due to quality control considerations.
This incident brings to attention the risk of theft breweries face — whether it’s from outsiders, or more commonly, brewery employees taking advantage of a golden opportunity. In fact, while it is unclear at this point if the SweetWater incident was an inside job, many brewery thefts — like in other retail sectors — are the result of employee dishonesty.
In this article, we look at common types of theft affecting breweries, including employee dishonesty, keg theft and cargo/transit theft. We also discuss how a brewery can reduce its risk exposure and what to look for in an insurance policy to make sure the brewery has the right coverage if it were to fall victim to theft.
Thirsty EmployeesEmployee theft is responsible for $18 billion or 43 percent of lost revenue for retailers in the U.S., according to a recent article from Fortune, which highlighted facts from the Global Retail Theft Barometer. In all, U.S. retailers lose roughly $42 billion annually from shrinkage – missing or stolen merchandise.
Employees may leave the gate open for a friend to quietly come in and smuggle out cases or kegs of beer. Breweries may not realize it, but regular theft insurance does not cover an event like this. Employee dishonesty, as it is known in the insurance industry, has its own coverage and it is a coverage that breweries want to make sure is included in their insurance policies. In many cases, the employee may not blatantly steal a truckload of beer, but they may swipe a few six-packs, brewing equipment, tools, kegs or have a little extra in the tasting room without keying the sale into the register.
Valuable KegsKeg theft is another risk exposure for breweries. According to the Beer Institute, a trade association that represents small and large U.S. brewers, each year more than 350,000 kegs are lost to the tune of a $50 million cost to the industry.
The empty kegs are valuable to thieves to sell as scrap metal or otherwise, particularly as new kegs sell for around $130 and a standard keg deposit now ranges from $10 to $50. From an insurance perspective, it is important for breweries to know the value of owned or leased kegs and to understand whether the keg is covered when it leaves the brewery premises.
The Cargo Transit Blame GameTransit is also a common area where theft can impact a brewery’s bottom line. An event similar to the SweetWater incident occurred at a Florida truck stop in October 2014 when thieves took off with a tractor trailer truck full of Miller High Life beers – 9,700 four-packs, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
During transit, brewers cannot assume the onus is on the trucker if the beer cargo goes missing. Insurance coverage for beer missing during transit is not automatic. Brewery owners should have a written agreement with the trucking company, ideally transferring all risk to the trucking company and ensuring the trucking company has a sufficient limit of insurance to cover a potential loss. Breweries can also look into transit insurance coverage to make sure their beer is covered while it is on the road.
Tapping the Right Insurance CoverageWith risk exposures like this and the potential to lose $90,000 worth of beer as in the SweetWater incident, breweries need to make sure they have comprehensive insurance. Often the best policies can be found at a specialty insurer, focused on the beer, wine or spirits industry.
Specialty brewery insurers can also provide risk management tips to help breweries limit their risk exposure. While finding the right insurance partner is key to protecting a brewery’s assets, there are steps breweries can take to protect themselves, including:
• Train employees to be aware of employee theft and provide anonymous hotlines to report theft;
• Protect other merchandise with cages;
• Install security cameras and keep tapes for 30-60 days in case a loss is not immediately discovered;
• Install alarms and sufficient lighting;
• Paint numbers on tops of trailers or employ only those with aerial identifiers;
• Install blocking mechanisms on truck starters;
• Insist on written agreements with truck operators/distributors – transferring risk to them if possible;
• When brewing a higher quality beer, make sure insurance limits are still sufficient for the increased value of the beer.
Unlike a general insurer, specialty insurers know the brewery business and the intricacies of a comprehensive coverage plan encompassing everything from the brewing process, the value of higher quality beer, leakage, theft, equipment breakdown, employee dishonesty and transit, among other things.
Brewers should be able to spend their time focusing on brewing quality beer. Finding an insurance partner they can trust to ensure their brewery has comprehensive coverage at a competitive price will allow brewers to do what they do best – keeping our pint glasses filled.
This timely column was sent over from Paul Martinez, Brewery Pak Program Manager, Pak Insurance Programs. Martinez has 20 years of commercial insurance experience and 6 years of experience underwriting breweries. He travels throughout the U.S. and Canada visiting breweries providing risk management and loss prevention services for the brewery industry.
For many of us, the Fourth of July just wouldn’t be complete without fireworks. State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy warns that people often forget that fireworks are explosives – potentially dangerous chemicals and combustibles that can cause fires and injure people.
“Sparklers, for example, burn at 1,200 degrees,” Connealy said. “That’s almost six times hotter than boiling water.” According to the National Fire Protection Association, sparklers account for 41 percent of fireworks-related injuries.
In 2015 there were 272 fires caused by fireworks, resulting in $164,602 in property damage. This was the second year in a row to see a decrease in fireworks-related fires. View the infographic below to learn firework injury statistics, the location of the injuries and tips on how to use fireworks safely.
Print a copy of this infographic.
Falls from heights are one of the most dangerous and serious types of workplace injuries. Falls from heights are also one of the most common and potentially preventable types of workplace injuries. Slip, trip and falls are the 2nd most common accident in general after motor vehicle accidents. There can be multiple fall hazards in breweries ranging from climbing ladders to accessing the top of tanks. Care must be given to ensure employees are protected from falls by the use of fall protection or prevention, and proper safety training.
In general, fall protection should complete one of the following 2 functions:
1) Prevent or restrain a worker from falling (i.e., Fall Prevention).
2) Stop or arrest a worker who falls (i.e., Fall Protection).
To learn more on steps your brewery can take to help prevent falls in the workplace, please download the Master Brewers Association of the Americas (MBAA) provided Safety Document below.
Slip & Fall Protection (MBAA)
The Brewers Association (BA) has released a new resource developed by the safety subcommittee. Best Management Practice for Surviving an OSHA Inspection provides helpful information for understanding the process of an on-site inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), or an OSHA-Approved State Plan.
The guidelines are designed to lead breweries toward developing a safety program and standard operating procedures (SOPs) that ensure a healthy and safe work environment. The document outlines the role of the brewery representative, a brewery’s rights and responsibilities and includes FAQs related to OSHA regulations and inspections.
“The most basic responsibility of any employer is to provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards and comply with the standards, rules and regulations issued under the OSH Act,” adds Matt Stinchfield, the BA’s Safety Ambassador. “Preparing for an OSHA inspection will also elevate your brewery to a higher level of safety awareness and improve worker wellbeing.”
The BA’s safety subcommittee developed this resource in direct response to the concerns of member breweries large and small.
- via Brewers Association
Jeff Carlson of Harmon Brewing Co. (Photo courtesy Jeff Carlson)
Re-Blogged from All About Beer Magazine
Written by Bryan Roth on 1/8/16
Last March, Jeff Carlson was preparing for another busy day at Harmon Brewing Co. The head brewer had two batches of his Expedition Amber to brew, along with other odds and ends around the brewery in Tacoma, Washington.
As he prepared to drain a mash tun, he cracked open its bottom drain and main manway to begin the flow of hot wort out of the 10-barrel-sized container. Something quickly went wrong, however, as pressure from a couple of extra inches of water on top of the grain forced the manway open. Malt and 175-degree water splashed onto him.
The mixture went right down his front side, spilling into his right boot, where a tucked-in pant leg kept the water and grains in place.
When he backed away into the middle of the brewery, the boot was sealed to his leg—his tucked-in pants causing suction with the wort. He tore off the boot, dropped his pants and looked down at his bright, red skin as he hosed it off with cool water.
“There was a bunch of white stuff on my foot I kept trying to brush off,” Carlson says. “I couldn’t figure out what it was when it dawned on me. It’s my skin rolling off my foot.”
Surgery would soon graft 20 inches of pig skin along his shin and foot, and Carlson would miss five weeks of work.
“I’ve worked in the industry for over seven years, and you’ll hear about ‘don’t do this or that,’ but you don’t always think about the consequences,” says Carlson, who continues to receive treatment for second- and third-degree burns.
The perception of working in the beer industry may be one of men and women clinking pint glasses and having a good time at festivals or in brewhouses, but just like any other industrial business, risk is involved.
Which is why there’s a growing chorus of voices trying to educate brewers and staff who have been placing more importance on personal safety needs. It comes at an ideal time, as brewery injuries reported to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) have been on the rise the last four years of reported data, increasing from 160 in 2011 to 530 in 2014. Sprains/strains, chemical burns/corrosions and bruises/contusions were the most common injuries, accounting for half of cases reported to BLS in 2014.
Increasingly, less experienced staff are most injured—the number of injuries reported to the BLS for employees with less than a year of service in the industry went from 40 in 2013 to 200 in 2014. Staff with more than five years of experience still managed 150 reported cases in 2014. About half of injuries in 2014 kept employees out of work for 10 days or more.
The beer community isn’t averse to the worst outcome from accidents as well: Three deaths were reported in 2009 and one in 2012.
“The bigger this industry becomes, the more eyes will be watching us,” says Michael Francis, owner and brewer at Payette Brewing Co. in Boise, Idaho. “For a long time, beer has stayed in this ‘hey, this is a cool job’ mentality, but now it’s turning into an industry that is about a lot more than just making beer.”
Francis is focused on the idea of safety these days, as his brewery prepares for an expansion in space and staffing. Payette has grown from four to 24 employees over the past three years, prompting him to start work on a safety manual that will be shared with everyone who works at the brewery. He notes he finds himself more sensitive to potential issues these days, including how the industry may react to increased scrutiny from the government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
An employee at Payette Brewing Co. missed two weeks of work after falling from a ladder. (Photo courtesy Payette Brewing Co.)
Earlier this year, Francis had a cellarman miss two weeks of work after a fall from a ladder, which he says meant increased work for himself and others to pick up the slack.
“For years we would run up and down ladders without thinking about it, but if you take a step back and think about it, that’s a really big deal,” he says. “Something like putting on a safety harness doesn’t seem so minor now.”
The Brewers Association recently began an effort to put more emphasis on safety with the hiring in April of Matt Stinchfield as safety ambassador for the trade organization. Stinchfield, who founded Ploughshare Brewing Co. in Lincoln, Nebraska, has spent more than 30 years consulting on safety, with almost 20 of them focusing on breweries.
Stinchfield travels the country to meet with brewers and state brewers guilds to offer insight and expertise on making breweries and warehouses safer. He’s also working with colleagues to roll out 70 online videos to cover all facets of safety, from chemical use to lifting techniques. Conversations around safety already exist, Stinchfield says, but it’s his job to make them happen more often.
“Brewers are talking about the hazards they’ve encountered and near misses because really, we’re like a bunch of guys sitting at the rural corner store comparing notes,” he says.
Which rings true for Gabriel Magliaro, founder of Chicago’s Half Acre Beer Co. Looking back on the early days of his brewery, which opened in 2007, he can rattle off a list of decisions he and co-workers might think twice about today: slinging 165-pound kegs without stretching or worrying about body movement, dropping equipment near feet without steel-toed boots or getting a slight burn as they walked by vessels with heated water inside.
“They’re natural hazards as part of the job, but it’s also not necessarily stuff you should have to worry about, because you can guard against them,” he says.
It’s a lesson he learned earlier this year while visiting Half Acre’s new production brewery, also in Chicago.
“I was rinsing out a blow-off arm on a tank, and it was packed with peracetic acid solution and water,” Magliaro recalls. “The pressure release valve pushed out and chemicals blasted me in the face, but thankfully I was wearing safety glasses.”
The incident gave Magliaro an excuse to test out a newly installed eye-washing station. The brewery also has emergency showers.
“I hosed myself down and I was fine,” he says. “Things happen even when you’re familiar with the process."
Gabriel Magliaro, founder of Half Acre Beer Co. (Photo courtesy BrewBokeh)
For Harmon Brewing’s Jeff Carlson, work in the months since his accident meant getting used to new safety measures, from being more aware of how he uses equipment to the way he dresses—pants are always outside boots now to prevent water sticking inside. These are steps he believes are inevitable to become commonplace among his peers across the country.
“Unless you’ve seen something happen or heard about it, the idea of safety can be hard to hit home,” he says. “But it will get better as more people talk about it and the consequences that can come from making a mistake.”
Bryan Roth is a North Carolina-based writer. Find him tweeting about beer at @bryandroth.
Aerial view of Flat Creek Estate, Texas. (Photo Courtesy Arch Aerial.)
Re-Blogged from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
Written by Michael Hendrix on 1/19/16
Drones are a buzzy topic. For winemakers, they are serious business. At a recent panel I moderated at the Texas Wine Symposium, a room full of down-to-earth farmers became animated with the notion of drones as mobile platforms for precision agriculture. And who could blame them? While the Texas High Plains outside of Lubbock and Austin’s Hill Country seem far from Silicon Valley, their high-margin wine growers are hungry for an edge in a fast-growing market.
Chris Brundrett, co-founder of William Chris Wines, recently used a drone to film promotional videos of his estate. His partner in the effort was Ryan Baker, the youthful CEO of Arch Aerial, a drone maker. As the camera zoomed in for a scene, he instantly saw the tell-tale signs of a plant disease common to vineyards.
Not that Brundrett was surprised.
“Of course I knew that,” he said with a smirk.
But his casual demeanor changed to youthful exuberance when conversation shifted to detecting photosynthetic activity in his grape leaves or scaring away pests or dusting his crop. The ideas were practically endless — and endlessly practical. We’re talking information he never had before that’s actually useful, he said.
A grizzled older man in the back of the room raised his hand, asking if he could use a drone to measure temperature across altitude and distance. Sure you could, said Baker, but no one’s doing it. Fine, I’ll build it, said the man. And so he will.
Winemakers who had never laid eyes on a drone instantly saw its potential. Our panel had hardly finished our own conversation before the crowd wanted in to pepper us with detailed, practical questions. How much do they weigh? Would I need a fixed-wing or an octo-rotor craft? Can I connect them to my robots? (Yes, this winemaker employed robots, and yes he was asking about creating his own Internet of Things, just not in so many words.)
Drones carry the promise of precision agriculture. Conventional photography and near-infrared imagery produces reams of data over areas large and small that advanced software tools then stitch together into 3D models. But that is simply the beginning. Drones carry the promise of precision agriculture. Conventional photography and near-infrared imagery produces reams of data over areas large and small that advanced software tools then stitch together into 3D models. But that is simply the beginning. The coming years will see numerous being made for drones; I won’t list them, only to say that they are simply limited by your imagination and the federal government (more on that shortly).
What we are seeing is a revolution in the capability and cost of unmanned aerial vehicles as well as the veracity of data that they’re gathering. Drones are at the forefront of a revolution in aviation thanks to growing computer power and cheaper sensors paired with automation. In short, drones allow vineyards to know whether their vines are behaving as they should. How are their crop progressing? What issues must be addressed? This bird’s-eye view promises a more precise and proactive viniculture.
And yet policy often complicates things. The most important player in the drone industry is not a company, but the government. The FAA expects to finalize rules for commercial drones this spring. Meanwhile, the FAA is offering exemptions to allow certain drone users to, among other activities, conduct aerial photography. But final rules are still up in the air.
Personally, I came to the symposium with no clear idea what to expect. I only had strong sense that there was a potential with young and hungry winemakers to try something new, and what better place to try than in Texas? At the very least their would be a crowd there crazy enough to give drones a try (I can say that as a Texan myself). I left the room with the knowledge that we had sparked something—or perhaps more accurately, we had simply added fuel to the fire
In the coming years, watchers of the commercial drone market should keep an eye on two fields: agriculture and mining. For the latter, China’s deceleration will lead to cutbacks in surveying expenditures; LIDAR will be on the outs, drones will be in. In agriculture, farmers with large fields or high margin crops will likely be the main drivers in drone use.
Drones have long been under the gaze of the public eye, and the public likes what they see. More than that, there’s value to drones as mobile platforms deployed for all manner of businesses, including vineyards.
I believe drones could be the next big thing in agriculture. Safe and responsible commercial drone use is in everyone’s interest -- starting right now. The FAA’s rules were supposed to be in place by September of last year. Instead we are left waiting. Whatever regulations are finally put in place, they must be finalized efficiently and clearly, ultimately leaving ample room for unpredictable innovation. Especially when the results taste so good.
We hope you, your family, and friends have a happy holiday season filled with joy and meaning!
As the year ends, we think about all the things for which we are grateful. Our relationship with local wineries, breweries, & distilleries is one thing we treasure.
Best wishes for a prosperous new year!
Please let us know how we can be of service to you or your organization in the coming year.
Our holiday hours are:
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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.”