As British Columbia's craft beer industry has been experiencing major growth and expansion, WorkSafeBC is now offering new health and safety resources to guide workers in reducing injuries and incidents and using best safety practices – including a new guide, posters and an educational video.
According to WorkSafeBC, the industry has tripled in size over the past decade – from 54 employers in the province to over 160. With rapid growth of a new industry, the risk of workplace hazards can increase.
"Craft beer brewing is a complex process that involves multiple stages of production," said Megan Martin, WorkSafeBC manager, Industry and Labour Services. "We know brewers and distillers spend a lot of time and effort focusing on the quality of their products and we want to make sure they produce them safely."
Between 2008 and 2017, there were 284 accepted time-loss claims for injuries in craft breweries and distilleries. The most frequently occurring incidents that resulted in injuries were: falls, overexertion, repetitive motion injuries, struck-by injuries and exposure to heat and cold. WorkSafeBC said workers aged 25-34 accounted for the highest percentage of workers injured on the job.
To combat these industry growing pains and to keep workers safe, WorkSafeBC's new resources address hazards specific to craft brewing and the distilling processes, including working in confined spaces and carbon dioxide.
Two of the new craft brewery-specific resources are 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.
Since 2017, as part of WorkSafeBC's Confined Space Initiative, prevention officers from the group have inspected 91 craft brewery locations and issued 177 orders related to regulatory-compliance violations around confined spaces.