Portland, OR-based Craft Brew Alliance Inc. is facing $63,500 in fines for 14 serious violations of workplace safety standards following the April 24 death of an employee at the company’s Redhook Brewery in Portsmouth, said Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials.
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 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, which is the maximum air pressure limit recommended by keg manufacturers. In this case, OSHA also found other employees who used the cleanout line also faced the same exposure 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. The company faces 13 additional serious violations for these conditions.