Workplace safety concerns grow in U.S. craft beer industry

Jan 02 2018

Craft beer has been good to Colorado, a state that ranks third in the nation in sales within this industry.

But as craft beer’s success has skyrocketed in the past 20 years, so have concerns about workplace safety — an area that until the last few years had been overlooked by some beer enthusiasts turned entrepreneurs.

Injuries, even deaths

Broken bones after falling from ladders, severe burns due to tank explosions, and sprains caused by slipping on wet floors are only a few of the reported injuries that have taken place at the nation’s more than 5,200 microbreweries, brewpubs and regional craft breweries.

Deaths have occurred as well.

After analyzing federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration data and local media reports, Reuters discovered that from 2009 to 2012,  four people died in craft brewery accidents in the United States.

That’s double the number of deaths reported at large breweries that made 10 times the beer during the same period.

Cultural change in safety

To put it bluntly, the craft beer industry needed a cultural change when it came to safety matters. And so far, it’s taken steps to improve safety education among the makers of craft beer.

For example, the Colorado-based Brewers Association has made a strong effort in promoting safety so much so that nearly three years ago the nonprofit created a safety ambassador position.

This person visits U.S. brewing facilities to increase safety awareness among association members, adopt new safety measures such as wearing steal-toe boots, and encourage prevention of harm to workers and the public.

In addition, the Brewers Association has teamed with a Michigan college in creating a free online 12-course training program course on safety.

Craft brewing important to Colorado

In 2016, Colorado had more than 330 craft breweries that annually produced 1.4 million barrels of beer. Such numbers showcase just how this industry has grown and become a vital part of our state’s economy.

But it also tells us that this is an industry that’s no different than others when it comes to safety. Prevention and education are key in promoting workplace safety.