As the number of craft breweries and distilleries in B.C.’s burgeoning industry increases, so does the potential for injury among workers. Slippery floors, carbon dioxide gas produced during the fermentation process, and confined working spaces can all pose a risk. From 2013 to 2017 there were 515 WorkSafeBC time-loss claims related to wine and beer-making injuries: thirty-three per cent of those resulted from strain and over-exertion, while 21 per cent were a result of falls on the same level or from a height.
To address these safety concerns and provide actionable solutions for workers and employers, WorkSafeBC has created a Health and Safety for Craft Breweries and Distilleries Safety Manual available to all establishments in the province. Copies were distributed at the Craft Brewers Conference which took place in Vancouver Oct. 19 2018 and at the Fortify Conference in Penticton, BC on November 7th, 2018. Digital editions are available online.
The guide encourages workers and employers to implement such practices as using dollies and lifts for transporting kegs, instead of having them delivered manually. “Delivery teams might be lifting hundreds of kegs [which can result in overuse injuries] but there are many other options for completing this process,” explains Jose Barranco, Industry Specialist, Industry & Labour Services with WorkSafeBC.
Barranco also urges brewery owners and managers to be mindful of carbon dioxide gas, which can seep out of fermentation tanks, bright beer tanks or dispensing systems. “[The gas] is odourless, tasteless and invisible to the eye so it’s important to install carbon dioxide monitors, and to use proper ventilation systems,” he explains. Without proper monitoring, workers risk long-term low-level exposure with detrimental health effects including dizziness, respiratory problems and headaches. Higher levels of exposure could result in more serious effects include unconsciousness and even death.
For more information about implementing WorkSafeBC safety protocols in your workplace visit the WorkSafeBC website.