OSHA’s health and safety standards apply to every industry, even the craft beer industry, but many craft breweries in New Jersey and across the U.S. are acting in ways that fail to meet these standards. The following are six common ways that craft breweries are violating OSHA standards.
First are violations of the rules regarding permit-required confined spaces. Employees are not meant to occupy these spaces for extended periods, and there should be a plan in place to at least monitor atmospheric changes in such spaces.
Second are violations of the general duty clause, which states that workplaces must be free of recognized hazards. Employers may conflict with this by having employees lift heavy kegs and sacks of grain without any regard to the ergonomic injuries they might sustain.
The next three violations have to do with hazardous chemicals or energy. There’s a standard on the safety management of harmful chemicals like ammonia that many breweries are not in compliance with. In addition, the lockout and tagout standard deals with hazardous energy being released and starting up machinery unexpectedly. There are also the standards on hazard communication.
Lastly, craft brewery owners may fail to provide the right eye and face protection. This is especially important since employees may be working around hazardous chemicals or boiling water.
Those who suffer an ergonomic injury, slip and fall or develop an occupational disease as a result of their work at a craft brewery can file for workers’ compensation benefits, but receiving those benefits is another matter. Employers have the right to deny payment if it’s clear that employees caused their own injuries. Before filing their claim, victims may want a lawyer to assess the case. A lawyer may also be helpful in mounting an appeal.