U.S. Craft Breweries Put Worker Safety at Risk

Nationwide, there are a growing number of craft-brewing companies that are expanding their production, bottling and distribution. With the rising trend of craft breweries, worker safety has been put at risk. There have been numerous injuries caused by explosions and fires as well as a rising death toll over the past few years. Brewery owners and workers should be aware of the safety risks and take necessary steps to prevent injury and accidental death.

According to recent reports, between 2009 and 2012, at least four workers have died in craft brewery accidents in the United States. Our Greenville workers’ compensation attorneys are dedicated to worker safety and helping victims and their families recover financial support in the event of an accident, injury or wrongful death. We will assist in investigating an accident, filing necessary documentation and advocating on behalf of victims and their families.

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Craft breweries, or smaller breweries, can pose additional risk to workers. According to OSHA records, there were fewer deaths at larger facilities that produced 10 times more beer. This means that smaller breweries are probably not implementing the same safety measures as large brewing companies, or that they are less monitored. The same reports indicated that there were four times as many safety violations at the smaller craft breweries.

The Brewers Association defines a craft brewery as one that makes 6 million barrels or less per year. A craft brewer title also requires that the recipe is traditional and less than 25% of the company can be owned by an alcohol drinkmaker. Brewery experts say that the oversight of smaller companies is lacking because there aren’t enough resources to keep tabs, especially as the trend is only growing. The number of injuries may also be under reported. The craft brewing industry has expanded from a niche market into an $10 billion dollar industry. To meet the needs of a quickly growing industry, employee safety has sometimes been overlooked. Many of the entrepreneurs in the brewing industry do not have a chemical or industrial safety background and do not know how to keep grounds safe or to train employees.

Brewery accidents and injuries can range from explosions and fires to serious injuries caused by heavy machinery, falls or electrical injuries. Reported accidents include death caused by fire or explosion and a keg that compressed because of pressure, which exploded and killed a worker. Craft industries should be consulting with safety experts to ensure that machinery is safe for use and that kegs pressures are kept at safe levels.

Safety inspectors and OSHA officials found 547 violations including 250 serious violations in breweries between 2003 and 2011. The brewers were fined a total of $222,000 for their violations which ranged from failing to enclose sprockets to not ensuring that machinery was disabled when an employee was inside.

In the event of a catastrophic workplace accident, victims and their families may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In addition to workers’ compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, victims may also be able to pursue third-party claims for additional losses. In these complex cases, a personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney can assist in sorting through the viability of your claims.

If you or someone you love has suffered work injury in North or South Carolina, contact the Lee Law Offices at 1-800-887-1965 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case.

More Blog Entries:

New OSHA Rule for Crane and Derrick Workers
, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, May 27, 2013


New Legislation Aims to Bolster OSHA Role in Worker Safety
, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, May 25, 2013

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