Brewery Safety: Top Hazards and How to Reduce Risk

October 21st, 2016 • by Rob Dettman
Rob Dettman

Rob Dettman

I’ve been in the insurance industry for 10 years, with an emphasis on workers compensation. A few years ago I decided to focus on the craft beverage industry as I love the product, the people involved, and what those businesses mean to New York. My goal is to help the craft beverage industry better understand their risks, reduce costs, and help keep their employees safe. Feel free to connect with me on Linked In, follow me on Twitter, or simply give me a call with any questions you have on how to reduce your premiums, improve your safety, and better protect your business. You focus on making great beer, I’ll focus on making sure you can continue to do so!

The cheapest claim for a brewery is the one that never happens. The best way to keep your insurance premiums low over the long term is to minimize the impact of claims on your business. While risk cannot be 100% removed from operating a brewery, there are a variety of ways a brewer or owner, as well as their employees can control their risks and reduce the frequency and severity of claims.

There are many financial benefits to managing your risk and having a focus on safety at your brewery. These include; saving money (reduce quantity, severity, and financial impact of injuries), reduced insurance and workers comp costs, less equipment down time, minimizing product loss, improving brand equity, more effective work procedures, and sustainability for a business.

The top hazards in breweries are similar to those in the general manufacturing industry. Below are some of the top risks, as well as how you can control their impact on your business;

  • Ergonomics – repetitive motion, lifting, awkward postures

How to manage – automate processes (hoists, conveyors, keg robots), two-person lifts, lift training for employees

  • Walking and Working Surfaces – wet floors, trip hazards, improperly stacked items

How to manage – clean up spills immediately, monthly walk-throughs looking for hazards, keep aisles, stairs, and platforms clear from clutter

  • Fall Protection – elevated work platforms, stairways

How to manage – Handrails, 4” toeboard, slip resistant reads on stairs

  • Powered Industrial Trucks – forklifts, pallet trucks, etc

How to manage – written and documented training, daily inspections, never load outside rated capacity

  • Keg Safety

How to Manage – never alter or tamper with safety devices, systems connected to kegs should have pressure regulator, only use kegs from your own brewery, inspect kegs (Sankey valve, steel ball, and o-ring)

  • Thermal hazards

How to manage – steam and hot water pipe insulation, label hot surfaces, written procedures for employees, long sleeves and pants, safety goggles and gloves

One of the best ways to manage your risk is to get your employees involved. Forming an employee lead safety committee can help get the focus of your company culture to be safety oriented. Use committee meetings to proactively identify and fix hazards, discuss accidents and near misses, develop recommendations, and assign actions. Your insurance broker can attend these meetings, make suggestions, and help with ways to implement procedures.

It is recommended that brewery operators report, track, and investigate accidents and near misses, document progress, work to identify on the job hazards, and solutions to mitigate them.

This article is modeled after a Brewery Safety Top Hazards and How to Reduce Risk presentation by Andrew Dagnan.