OSHA has fined a brewery in Portsmouth, NH, $63,500 in connection with the explosion of a beer keg that struck and killed a worker.
The agency’s investigation determined the explosion resulted from excess air pressure introduced into the keg from a hose.
Ben Harris, 26, was killed at the Redhook Ale Brewery while using pressurized air to clean out the keg.
Redhook’s parent company, Craft Brew Alliance, faces 14 serious violations. One violation related to the fatality: exposing employees to struck-by hazards by exceeding manufacturers’ recommended air pressure maximum while cleaning out kegs.
“The inability to regulate air pressure when cleaning out kegs exposed employees to a recognized hazard of being struck by the debris should the kegs explode due to being overpressurized,” said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA’s New Hampshire area director. “One means of correcting this hazard … is to install an air pressure regulator on the key cleanout line.”
Other OSHA violations at the brewery included:
- deficiencies in procedures for work in a confined space
- incomplete procedures for locking out machines’ power sources before performing maintenance
- unguarded machinery
- improper storage of oxygen and acetylene tanks, and
- failing to inform welders of chromium hazards.
Redhook released a statement saying the OSHA violations have already been addressed, including installing the pressure relief devices. It also said it had believed its procedures were safe because it had only dealt with stainless steal kegs. The keg Harris was cleaning was plastic.
The statement didn’t indicate whether the company would contest the fines. It has 15 business days to decide.