There are more breweries operating in the United States now than at any other time in history. Data from the Brewers Association (BA), the trade association representing small and independent American brewers, shows that in 2015, 4,269 breweries provided nearly 122,000 jobs nationwide.
Covering these employees for workers’ compensation can be expensive for brewery owners, and providing for worker safety is a topic that shouldn’t be ignored. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that there are nearly four times more safety violations in craft breweries than at larger breweries. This isn’t surprising, given the fact that most craft breweries are newer operations and many were started by homebrewers who may be operating a business for the first time.
Startup brewers must pay attention to operational tasks such as filing for permits, refining and scaling up recipes. It’s easy to see how developing safe work procedures and implementing a training program could be overlooked. Many craft breweries simply can’t afford to employ a full-time safety or loss control manager as do large regional and national breweries.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 database cites falls and contact with another object as the two most common brewery accidents resulting in days away from work. Most of these accidents occur in the production areas. Developing a good employee safety program begins with identifying where the exposures are.
Breweries can take advantage of many low- or no-cost options to help assess risks and get started down the road to safety. Often the brewer’s insurance carrier or agent can assist with hazard assessment and make recommendations to prevent injury. Many state brewers guilds also provide safety information. The Brewers Association offers its members free online safety training as well as information on safe operations in confined spaces, protective clothing and best management practices.
Brewers that work toward a goal of identifying, correcting or mitigating hazards and fostering a proactive approach to safety can create a safer environment for employees and guests. These measures may also help lower costs for workers’ compensation and overall insurance costs