Craft brewer cited by US Labor Department's OSHA for safety hazards
at New Hampshire brewery following fatality caused by April keg explosion
CONCORD, N.H. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Portland, Ore.-based Craft Brew Alliance Inc. with 14 alleged serious violations of workplace safety standards following the April 24 death of an employee at the company's Redhook Brewery in Portsmouth. The employee was using a compressed air line to purge liquid from the interior of a plastic keg when the keg exploded and fatally struck him.
An investigation by OSHA's Concord Area Office determined that the explosion resulted from excess air pressure introduced into the keg from the keg cleanout line. The line lacked an air regulator that would have limited its air pressure to less than 60 PSI, or pounds per square inch, which is the maximum air pressure limit recommended by keg manufacturers. In this case, OSHA also found that other employees who used the cleanout line were exposed to the same hazard while cleaning out steel kegs.
One serious violation related to the fatality is exposing employees to struck-by hazards by exceeding manufacturers' recommended air pressure maximum while cleaning out kegs. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
"The inability to regulate air pressure when cleaning out kegs exposed employees to a recognized hazard of being struck by debris should the kegs explode due to being overpressurized," said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's New Hampshire area director. "One means of correcting this hazard, among others, and preventing future deaths or injuries is to install an air pressure regulator on the keg cleanout line so that the air pressure does not exceed manufacturers' recommended maximum."
OSHA's inspection of the brewery identified numerous additional hazards unrelated to the explosion. These include deficiencies in procedures for work in a confined space, incomplete procedures for locking out machines' power sources before performing maintenance, unguarded machinery, the improper storage of oxygen and acetylene tanks, and failing to inform welders of chromium hazards. Thirteen additional serious violations have been cited for these conditions.
Craft Brew Alliance Inc. faces a total of $63,500 in proposed fines, and has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with the OSHA area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Concord office at 603-225-1629.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.