Protect your craft brewery business.
Every brewery – no matter the size – needs an OSHA safety program.
Over the course of one year, the craft brewery industry saw a growth of roughly 17%, wrapping up 2016 with over 5,000 breweries in the U.S. Of those 5,000 breweries, 99% are small and independent craft brewers. If you didn't already know these numbers, it should pleasantly surprise you. What may not give you a warm, fuzzy feeling however, is the increase in brewery workplace accidents, and the number of breweries who are either unaware of, or ignore OSHA training and policies. Turning a blind eye can work temporarily, until one of two things happen: a serious incident or accident occurs, or the business is cited by state or federal OSHA.
Why Focus on Safety?
OSHA requires all employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace. No exceptions. Breweries are considered a high-hazardous industry and present many risky conditions such as hot liquids, confined spaces, caustic chemicals, pressurized tanks, frequently wet floors, noise, ergonomic issues, and fire and respiratory concerns. Making beer can have safety risks which can be very dangerous if not controlled.
OSHA records show that, between 2009-2012, there were at least four reported deaths at craft breweries and two reported deaths in the larger breweries. In 2013, seven workers died in a confined space accident at Modelo Brewery, owned by Constellation Brands, the makers of Grupo Modelo brands such as Corona and Corona Light. According to the OSHA enforcement database, many craft breweries are not compliant, so these figures could be worse than statistics because many incidents often go unreported. The lack of safety management plans and programs caused smaller Craft Breweries to receive nearly 4 times the number of safety violations compared to larger breweries.
Safety Saves Money
According to OSHA’s Safety Pays Program, a brewery operating at a 25% profit margin experiencing only 1 serious burn injury can expect the following cost:
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.
If you need another reason to institute a safety program: The minimum OSHA fine for a serious violation is $12,000.
Education and Understanding
Craft brewery owners and operators need to be educated as to what programs they need and an affordable means to meet the challenges to becoming compliant. If you're not sure where to start, read OSHA's Small Business Handbook.
Education is key to a successful safety program.
Follow the Yellow Brick Road
The Brewers Association provides written programs and training materials to its members free of charge. Many brewery owners and operators are not trained in health and safety management. Managing information, let alone knowing what to do with it becomes a real issue. Breweries need more than “fill in the blanks” safety manuals and safety training videos to fully meet the regulations. One way to manage this issue is to hire a safety manager. Often, the budgets of start-up breweries won't support this option. Don't worry - there are other affordable options available, one being outsourcing safety management by hiring a safety consultant. As a result, the brewery gets the safety development, management and program maintenance at an affordable cost.
To get the development of their safety program moving faster, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery reached out to a local safety consulting firm for assistance. An initial assessment was performed at the brewery, and a resulting 26-chapter Brewery Health and Safety Plan with all supporting safety management forms was submitted to Hardywood. The consulting firm also developed and conducted supporting training classes required by their program. The entire workforce completed this documented training, with hands-on exercises and testing to verify comprehension of the material covered in the training classes.
Subsequently, their program as put to the test by a VA OSHA (VOSH) site inspection following an incident. After reviewing their new written programs and training documentation, the brewery received no citations and were praised for the quality of their programs and commitment to safety. Hardywood's officials will attest that hiring the consulting firm was money well spent.
Safety Consulting Firms
An Occupational Safety Consultant with manufacturing experience can get the craft brewery safety program off and running and monitor the operation on an ongoing basis, making sure his client has the tools, direction and training to operate the business safely. Also, most consulting firms have resources available to handle a vast array of health and safety issues encountered in the workplace.
Fortunately, there are numerous occupational health and safety consulting firms located throughout the United States that can help craft brewers develop and manage their health and safety programs. Hiring a part-time safety consultant is an excellent economical way to develop and manage their safety program. Preventing and reducing employee injuries is just good business practice. The bottom line is having a legitimate, properly managed health and safety program is part of doing business; non-compliance is not an option.
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