The expansion of the craft brewery industry is continuing at a rapid pace, leading to increased sales - and safety concerns at worksites. Although beer sales in the U.S. were down one percent overall in 2017, craft brewer sales were up by five percent, making that market segment account for an impressive 12.7 percent of the total beer market and more than 23 percent of retail sales of beer. According to the Brewers’ Association, craft production grew the most for microbreweries – small, independent operations.
“Craft-beer brewing is a complex process that involves multiple stages of production,” says Megan Martin, manager of Industry and Labour Services for WorkSafeBC, a workplace safety agency in the Canadian province of British Columbia (B.C.). The craft brewery industry has tripled in size in B.C. over the past ten years, growing from 54 employers to more than 160.
Types of injuries
From 2008 to 2017, there were 284 accepted time-loss claims for injuries in craft breweries and distilleries. The types of incidents most frequently resulting in injury included falls, overexertion, struck-by, repetitive motion, and exposure to heat and cold. Workers aged 25-34 accounted for the highest percentage of workers injured.
With that data in mind, WorkSafeBC has produced resources to assist brewery and distillery employers with their health and safety programs. These address hazards specific to craft-brewing and distilling processes, including confined spaces and carbon dioxide. They include a downloadable guide, posters, and a video featuring Red Truck Beer Company’s approach to safety.
Two of the posters designed for employers to display at the worksite. Carbon dioxide in alcoholic beverage manufacturing details the risks of carbon dioxide exposure, myths, symptoms, and how to prevent an exposure; Confined spaces in Craft Breweries illustrates examples of confined spaces in craft breweries, a list of hazards present in confined spaces, and useful tips when working in and around them.
These educational resources build on WorkSafeBC’s prevention efforts to protect workers in craft brewing. Since 2017, as part of its Confined Space Initiative, WorkSafeBC prevention officers have inspected 91 craft-brewery locations and issued 177 orders related to regulatory-compliance violations around confined spaces.
VIDEO: Health and Safety in Craft Brewing: See how Red Truck Beer is managing a robust safety program.
Health and Safety for Craft Breweries and Distilleries: A comprehensive guide for owners, employers, managers, supervisors, or workers in craft breweries and distilleries.
WorkSafe Magazine: Staying healthy and safe in B.C.’s burgeoning craft brewing industry.