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Brewery safety ain’t no joke

January 25, 2016

“There was a bunch of white stuff on my foot I kept trying to brush off,” Carlson says. “I couldn’t figure out what it was when it dawned on me. It’s my skin rolling off my foot.”

Surgery would soon graft 20 inches of pig skin along his shin and foot, and Carlson would miss five weeks of work.

Brewery injuries reported to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) have been on the rise the last four years of reported data, increasing from 160 in 2011 to 530 in 2014. Sprains/strains, chemical burns/corrosions and bruises/contusions were the most common injuries, accounting for half of cases reported to BLS in 2014.

“The bigger this industry becomes, the more eyes will be watching us,” says Michael Francis, owner and brewer at Payette Brewing Co. in Boise, Idaho. “For a long time, beer has stayed in this ‘hey, this is a cool job’ mentality, but now it’s turning into an industry that is about a lot more than just making beer.”

The Brewers Association recently began an effort to put more emphasis on safety with the hiring in April of Matt Stinchfield as safety ambassador for the trade organization. Stinchfield, who founded Ploughshare Brewing Co. in Lincoln, Nebraska, has spent more than 30 years consulting on safety, with almost 20 of them focusing on breweries.


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