In early April, we wrote a blog on seven workers dying at a brewery run by Grupo Modelo S.A.B. de C.V. in Mexico City. The victims were reportedly maintenance workers who became trapped inside a brewery cistern and investigators were looking into whether or not the workers died from inhaling toxic fumes. That kind of thing just doesn’t happen in America, right? Wrong.
According to Occupational Health & Safety magazine, OSHA has cited Anheuser-Busch Cos. LLC in Houston with one willful and five serious violations for allegedly failing to protect workers from exposure to carbon dioxide and other workplace hazards as they worked in brewery cellars. The agency began an inspection of the brewery in October 2012 following a complaint. Proposed penalties total $88,000. Here’s what else the article says:
The willful violation alleges the company failed to consider the carbon dioxide atmosphere in the cellars to be immediately dangerous to life or health and failed to identify respiratory hazards. The serious violations cited include failing to verify that conditions in permit-required confined spaces are acceptable throughout the duration of the entry; ensure the entrant can communicate with the permit-required confined space attendant as necessary; ensure attendants perform no other duty that might interfere with their primary duty to monitor and protect the entrant of the confined space; evaluate a prospective rescuer’s ability to respond to a rescue summons in a timely manner; and inform each team or rescue service of the hazards they may confront when called upon to perform a rescue at the site.
“Employers must recognize the hazards that exist in their workplaces and then develop the necessary safety and health policies and procedures to protect workers,” said David Doucet, area director at OSHA’s Houston North Office.
Employee health and safety is a company’s top priority, and to think brewery accidents only happen in other countries is dead wrong. Now is a great time to review safety procedures and protocols in your craft brewery, especially with maintenance and cleaning personnel.