Becoming OSHA compliant

Craft breweries are popping up in record numbers throughout the United States

The Craft Brewery Industry Explosion

With the explosion of Craft Breweries across the nation, an explosion in brewery workplace accidents or incidents is also equally happening. Regrettably, little attention is paid to the required safety programs, record-keeping, training and policies by most small Craft Brewery’s  until one of two things happen, a serious incident or accident occurs, or the business gets a surprise visit and is cited by state or federal OSHA.


Safety Programs not on the Radar

Safety compliance is not even on the radar of most craft breweries.


Unfortunately, Craft Breweries as with many small businesses, OSHA compliance, along the required written Health & Safety plans are items not even on the radar screens of these establishments.  Home brewers that go into business may know everything about brewing beer but for the most part (with few exceptions) know little or nothing about Safety and Health regulations or their legal obligation to be compliant.

Craft Breweries are micro chemical manufacturing plants. You would never expect a large chemical plant to operate without safety programs or training, or be allowed to put their employees at risk of injury would you? Of course not, then why would you not think the same would apply to a smaller operation?  The hazards are the same. According to some of my anonymous Virginia OSHA officials (VOSH), the golden era of lax regulation of the craft brewing industry is over.

Why focus on Safety?

Because OSHA requires all employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace.  No exceptions.  There are so many hazardous conditions and operations present in brew-houses across the country; I don’t know where to start, Confined Spaces, Hazardous chemicals, gasses, thermal hazards, moving parts, slippery floors, noise, ergonomic issues, fire and respiratory concerns, the list goes on and on.

Confined spaces are just one of the many hazards found in craft breweries.

Unsafe conditions are located throughout the workplace in Craft Breweries.

 OSHA records show that between 2009-2012 there were at least four deaths reported at Craft Breweries and two deaths reported in the larger breweries.

In 2013, seven workers died in a confined space accident at a Corona Brewery.

Due to the lack of compliance in the Craft Breweries those figures could be worse than the statistics show because many incidents often go unreported. The lack of safety management plans and programs caused smaller Craft Breweries to receive nearly four times the number of safety violations compared to larger breweries.


Safety Saves Money

Direct Cost: $37,389

Indirect Cost: $41,127

Total Cost: $78,516

Sales to cover indirect cost:  $164,511

Sales to cover total cost:  $314,064

The extent to which the employer pays the direct costs depends on the nature of the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy. The employer always pays the indirect costs. You can bet on one thing for sure “workers compensation” premiums will increase with claims being paid out. The prevention of one serious injury could more than cover the cost of your program.

Also, don’t forget the minimum OSHA fine for a serious violation is $12000.00.

Education and Understanding

Craft brewing industry owners need to be educated as to what programs they need and an affordable means to meet the challenges to becoming compliant.

A good place to start to determine the requirements is by reading the OSHA “Small Business Handbook” that is found on the Department of Labor OSHA website

How to get there

The challenge for most business owners not trained in Health & Safety management is they don’t know what to do with or how to manage all the material that is available to them no matter how well intended they may be.

In most cases hiring a safety manager is not in the budget, however, there are other affordable options out there to fill the void. Outsourcing safety management by using an online brewery safety consulting service is a great way to get safety development, management, and program maintenance at an affordable cost.

Online Safety Consulting service

An Occupational Safety Consultant with craft brewery manufacturing experience can get your Craft Brewery Safety program off and running and help you monitor the operation on an ongoing basis, making sure you have the tools, direction, and training to operate the business safely.

Fortunately, we can help Craft Brewers develop and manage their Health & Safety programs. Contact me for an economical way to create and maintain your safety program.  Preventing and reducing employee injuries is just good business practice. The bottom line is having a legitimate correctly managed Health & Safety program is part of doing business and noncompliance is not an option.

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Terry Botts