Industrial accidents afflict craft breweries

In any industry, when demand for a product suddenly increases, the industry clambers to meet the demand and profit from it. However, in the search for an increase in the bottom line, industries often overlook the very people who are working hard to produce the product-the workers. The craft brewing industry may be turning into one such industry, with state inspectors and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration finding 547 violations – many deemed serious – in smaller breweries between 2003 and 2011. In comparison, there were only 151 violations in larger breweries that make 10 times more beer.

North Carolina residents may not be aware that there are many types of industrial accidents that can take place in craft breweries, ranging from burns caused by spills from pots used to cook beer to deaths caused by exploding kegs. According to statistics, between 2009 and 2012, four workers died in workplace accidents in small breweries across the country. This is in comparison with only two deaths in the large breweries.

Some experts believe that craft breweries are not reporting injuries and that the statistics do not represent the actual number of injured workers. These experts point out that OSHA statistics only show two instances of seriously injured workers since 2007, despite numerous violations and deaths.

The injuries suffered in these types of industrial accidents are often burns that require extensive skin grafts and medical attention. The expense of these treatments can place a strain on financial resources that injured North Carolina workers are unable to cover. Filing a workers’ compensation claim may not only make compensation available to cover these expenses but also bring attention to the safety violation so it may be remedied and similar accidents avoided in the future.

Source: Journal Sentinel, “Fast-growing U.S. craft brewers struggle with worker safety,” M.B. Bell, July 14, 2013

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