The beer making business is better than ever for American breweries. There are currently almost 4,000 breweries operating in the United States, producing over 24 million barrels of beer. With such a high production rate, it is no surprise the number of brewery accidents also has increased.
Types of Accidents Common to Breweries
Brewers often are exposed to hazard chemicals during the beer making process. The use of ammonia refrigeration exposes brewery workers to the release of this toxic and flammable chemical. Carbon dioxide, a byproduct of the beer making process, also can be extremely dangerous to workers. Even the heavy chemical cleaning agents required to sanitize the equipment from the used water, hops, grains, yeast and other beer ingredients can pose a toxic exposure risk.
Another common type of brewery accident occurs in confined spaces. In confined space like tanks, workers can be exposed to unsafe atmospheric conditions. The most common OSHA safety violation citation received by breweries is the failure to provide safe working practices in a confined space. If a work area is large enough that an employee can enter and perform their work but has limited or restricted entry or exit means and is not designed for continuous employee occupancy, it will be classified as a “confined space.” In 2013, a confined space tragedy occurred when seven brewery workers at Grupo Modelo (the manufacturer of Corona beer) died while cleaning out a tank after inhaling toxic fumes.
Dangerous equipment accidents may occur when brewery machinery is not properly maintained or operated. Brewery equipment such as fermenters, bottling lines, grain silos, mash tuns and kettles must be properly cleaned and serviced to create a safe working environment for brewery workers. Brewers must be trained in specific lockout and tagout procedures to avoid the unexpected startup of brewery equipment. An explosion of an overpressured vessel is another type of brewery accident that occurs when equipment is not carefully monitored.
Almost 100,000 forklift-related accidents, including 85 fatalities, take place each year. Breweries frequently use forklifts to transport raw ingredients, move brewery equipment and lift pallets and kegs. All fork lift drivers should receive formal and practical instruction before operating the fork lift.
Types of Injuries
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the number of nonfatal injuries resulting from brewery accidents has increased by 57 percent in the last eight years. Some of the most common types of injuries include burns, back injuries and respiratory illnesses.
Labor intensive brewery tasks such as lifting heavy beer kegs or transporting grain bags can result in physical injuries ranging from strained muscles, broken bones and back and spinal cord injuries. Wet floor surfaces can cause slips and falls which led to broken bones, head injuries including concussions or traumatic brain injuries and bruises.
Burns are another type of injuries common for brewery workers. When vessels boil over with hot liquids, workers are at risk for severe burns that often require hospitalization. The fermentation process can result in explosions and implosions which also put brewery workers at risk for burn injuries.
Columbia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Assist Victims of Workplace Accidents
If you or your loved one has been injured in a workplace accident, compensation may be available. At Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A., our experienced Columbia Workers’ Compensation lawyers handle all types of accidents and all types of injuries at the workplace. To schedule a confidential appointment with a Columbia Workers’ Compensation lawyer today, call us at 803-929-3600 or 866-881-8623 or submit an online inquiry form.
We assist injured workers across the state, including those in Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.