The CEO of a brewery in Portsmouth, NH, says it may prove impossible to determine what caused a plastic beer keg to explode, causing fatal injuries to a worker who was cleaning it with compressed air.
Ben Harris was killed at the Redhook Ale Brewery.
Redhook’s parent company is Craft Brew Alliance. CBA CEO Terry Michaelson said one reason it may be impossible to determine the exact cause of Harris’ death is because there were no witnesses to the 7 a.m. explosion.
Now, CBA has hired an independent investigator to look into the explosion. OSHA is also investigating, but that could take up to six months.
Redhook officials believe Harris was emptying the keg before stacking it on a pallet when it burst at the middle seam and split into two pieces.
The keg wasn’t owned by Redhook. It had been brought to the brewery in error in a delivery of near-empty kegs.
Several New England veteran brewers say this is one of the only instances of a work-related keg explosion they can recall.
Plastic kegs aren’t the industry standard; stainless steel kegs are.
“For years, this process for emptying kegs has been performed without incident,” Michaelson said.
The company is tentatively planning to brew a memorial beer to celebrate the life of Harris.