Four people might not seem like a lot, but that’s actually four more than is acceptable. Managing the health and safety of all brewery employees is far more important than having award-winning, top-selling beer. Without the development and implementation of an effective health and safety program, accidents and injuries will happen.
According to an interesting article in the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, from 2009 through 2012, at least four people died in craft brewery accidents in the United States, compared with two deaths at Big Beer breweries. This is all according to a Reuters analysis of federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration data and local media reports.
There were also nearly four times as many safety violations at craft breweries in recent years than at large breweries. And brewery experts say the safety oversight at smaller companies is worse than official statistics might suggest because injuries, even severe ones, often go unreported.
According to Reuters’ analysis of the data, state inspectors and OSHA found 547 violations, including 250 serious violations, at craft breweries from 2003 through 2011. Officials fined the small brewers an aggregate $220,000 for violations ranging from failing to enclose sprockets and chains to not ensuring machinery was disabled when an employee was inside, the article noted. By comparison, large brewers, such as Anheuser-Busch and Coors, had 151 violations, including 69 serious, during the same period.
Brewers Association board member Gary Fish said craft brewers sometime struggle with safety, as many other small manufacturers do. Haste causes accidents, and pressure to meet demand causes haste, said Fish, who is the founder and CEO of Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Ore. “It’s a challenge everywhere,” he said. “I don’t think anyone is de-emphasizing safety.”
The rest of the article goes over even more stark facts and figures that should open the eyes of craft breweries not fully implementing safety programs.