According to the Brewers Association (BA), more beer was sold in 2015 than in any year since 1873. There were approximately 4,000 U.S. breweries that produced more than 24 million barrels of beer that year alone. While the increasingly popular industry has generated huge profits, it has also resulted in higher numbers of nonfatal injuries and illnesses; the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports an increase of 57 percent since 2010.
Between 2010 and 2015, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) citations at breweries more than doubled. The number of brewery-related injuries reported to the BLS also increased from 160 in 2011 to 530 in 2014. The most common injuries were sprains, strains, chemical burns, corrosions, bruises and contusions, which accounted for over half of the injuries reported in 2014.
In 2012, two workers were injured in an explosion at a Lehigh County, Pennsylvania brewery and one worker was killed in a Portsmouth, New Hampshire brewery when a plastic keg full of compressed air exploded. Brewery accidents are often avoidable if employers follow safe practices as recommended by OSHA. Sadly, some employers do not follow OSHA-approved guidelines and employees are injured as a result. Some of the most frequently-cited OSHA violations at breweries include:
Confined space violations: Employers that require workers to work in confined spaces must create a written confined space permit program that identifies the hazards, requires atmospheric condition testing and includes rescue and emergency service instruction. Employees must also be trained and receive a confined space entry permit signed by their supervisor prior to working in a confined space.
Ergonomic violations: Brewery workers often perform heavy lifting and other physically demanding tasks. Employers should mitigate the risks associated with those tasks by training employees on proper lifting techniques and substituting mechanical aids or automated material handling equipment or pneumatic lifts whenever possible.
Dangerous chemical violations: Ammonia, often used in beer refrigeration, is identified as a dangerous chemical under OSHA regulations. Employers must develop a process hazard analysis along with an outline of operation and emergency procedures for refrigeration systems. When they fail to do so, or when they fail to adequately train employees of the handling and maintenance of the equipment, they face being cited by OSHA for dangerous chemical violations.
Hazardous energy: Employers must develop a lockout/tagout program and employees must be trained on proper lockout/tagout procedures in order to safeguard employees from hazardous energy that may be released during start up or shut down of equipment and machinery. OSHA requires employers to have these procedures in writing.
Hazard communication: Hazardous chemicals in the workplace must be labeled and employers must provide Safety Data Sheets to employees, along with hazard communication plans, proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and training on how to handle or monitor toxic chemicals in the workplace.
Failure to train employees on forklifts and powered trucks: Employees must be adequately trained on how to safely operate forklifts and powered trucks. OSHA guidelines dictate the appropriate method of training employees on such tasks, including providing them with both formal instruction and practical training.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Represent Workers Injured in Brewery Accidents
If you were injured in a brewery accident, contact an experienced Philadelphia work injury lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. For a free consultation, call us at 888-PITT-LAW or complete our online contact form.
We represent brewery workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in and around Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester, and Wynnewood.