Common Health Hazards in Craft Breweries
Every industry requires special consideration of inherent risks to ensure the safety of employees and customers, and craft breweries are no exception. Craft breweries must consider the responsibility of liquor sales and the safety hazards that may have a significant financial impact on the brewery.
According to data, insurance policies formulated for craft breweries have become increasingly popular in recent years. The types of claims for craft breweries are similar to those of the catering industry, with the most common being muscle strains caused by heavy lifting or slipping. However, the risks of craft breweries are not the same as those of restaurants. For example, cleaning the container/fermentation tank may expose the confined space to the air; workers may be exposed to high concentrations of carbon dioxide during the fermentation process, causing dizziness, headaches, confusion, or even loss of consciousness.
Some of the most common risks faced by craft breweries include:
The brewery uses a variety of beer production equipment to produce and store beer, from brewhouse equipment to beer packaging equipment. If the thermometer on the cooler fails, it can easily cause a batch of craft beer and raw materials to deteriorate, resulting in financial losses. It is recommended to have a professional brewery equipment maintenance engineer in the brewery. They can regularly check the equipment to ensure its normal operation as much as possible.
When employees approach the moving parts of grain hoppers, malt mills, filling machines, and other equipment, serious injuries may occur. Exposure to energy from equipment during cleaning, setup, or maintenance can also lead to accidents, especially during equipment troubleshooting. Additionally, many craft breweries still use forklifts to move raw materials and beer. These materials can tip over or roll forward, posing harm to workers. Improper handling of compressed gas cylinders used in breweries can also lead to explosions.
In general, glass bottles or barrels used for dispensing beer may encounter certain problems, such as breakage, chipping, or even defective bottles, which can result in contaminated or spoiled beer. If consumers consume this spoiled beer, it can have an impact on their health and the brewery may face compensation claims.
Unsafe Working Conditions
Workers working on wet floors may slip or fall. Additionally, objects in their path can cause them to trip. During the brewing or distillation process, workers may also get burned by hot equipment surfaces or steam. Many chemicals are used when cleaning brewery equipment, and exposure to these chemicals is a common cause of worker injuries.
Hot Surfaces, Steam, and Boiling Liquids
Thermal burns are one of the most common injuries in craft breweries. Workers may come into contact with very hot metal equipment surfaces (such as brewhouse equipment or steam pipes) or get burned by contact with boiling water.
Hazardous or Flammable Chemicals
The cleaning solvents and disinfecting chemicals used in craft breweries can cause minor skin irritation, and some chemicals may cause serious injuries to employees. Fires and explosions are also major hazards in craft breweries. For example, ethanol (alcohol) vapor can leak into cans or barrels and ignite. If the vapor is released into a closed space with an ignition source (such as a gas boiler), it can cause an explosion.
Employees in craft breweries, like those in other occupations, may develop occupational diseases. Although it may not seem obvious, employees in craft breweries often perform repetitive movements, lift heavy objects, or maintain awkward positions for long periods of time, all of which can lead to muscle strains and injuries.
Risk Management of Craft Breweries
With the rapid growth of the craft beer industry, the risks involved in small businesses operating craft breweries are also increasing. The safety of employees needs to be given top priority in the craft brewing industry. Craft breweries can adopt various regulations to help manage the risks faced by employees. Implementing appropriate management regulations will help reduce equipment downtime, improve product quality, ensure employee safety, and provide various economic benefits.
Risk management techniques that craft breweries should keep in mind include:
Having Proper Small Business Insurance
Since operating a craft brewery involves unique risks, it is necessary to have appropriate small business insurance. This provides protection and compensation in the event of any type of accident or claim. Craft brewery insurance usually covers property, general liability, workers’ compensation, and liquor liability.
Discussing Risks with Suppliers
Quality control is crucial for small businesses like craft breweries. Craft breweries that rely on suppliers for raw materials, brewery equipment, or piping systems should clearly understand the responsibilities of all parties in the event of a problem. Craft breweries should discuss risk sharing with suppliers, negotiate and sign contracts, rather than relying solely on verbal agreements. Craft breweries must establish comprehensive quality control documents and provide scientific training for their employees.
Creating a Safety-Related Task List
All employees in the craft brewery should receive comprehensive safety training and understand all the operating procedures of the brewery equipment and the associated risks. Typically, craft brewery work involves tight schedules and multitasking. Creating a designated work task list helps ensure that every employee follows safe operations to ensure their own safety.