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Work safety an issue at many U.S. craft breweries

There is no debate that Chicago is home to a thriving craft brewery scene that has experienced rapid growth over the last several years. In fact, beer aficionados from across the nation routinely flock to the Windy City to taste the ales, lagers and stouts offered by both the new and well-established craft breweries.

Interestingly, a recent report shows that while U.S. craft breweries pride themselves on paying attention to every detail in the manufacturing process, many are not paying close enough attention to workplace safety.

In fact, a recent analysis of statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration undertaken by the news outlet Reuters made some rather alarming findings concerning the incidence of workplace injuries and fatalities at craft breweries across the U.S.:

  • Four people were killed in workplace accidents at craft breweries from 2009 to 2012 versus only two at large breweries (i.e., those making ten times the amount of beer)
  • Craft breweries were issued 547 OSHA violations (250 for serious violations) from 2003 to 2011 versus 151 OSHA violations (69 for serious violations) issued to large brewers

Why then are craft breweries -- defined by the Brewers Association as those that use traditional recipes to make 6 million barrels of beer or less per year -- so far ahead on taste but so far behind on safety?

According to safety experts, the phenomenon can be traced to the simple fact that craft breweries are lacking the automation and resources of the large brewers, and are often unfamiliar with safety requirements and workplace hazards.

The good news, however, is that these safety experts have also reported seeing a shift in attitudes toward work safety among craft breweries. Specifically, more brewery owners are investing in safety equipment, taking classes and holding training sessions for employees.

Consider speaking with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to learn more about your options if you have suffered serious injuries in a workplace accident.

 

Source: Reuters, "Insight: Fast-growing U.S. craft brewers struggle with worker safety," M.B. Pell, July 12, 2013

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