OSHA cites Redhook for safety violations

U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the Craft Brew Alliance with 14 alleged safety violations as a result of its investigation into the accident in which Redhook Ale Brewery worker Ben Harris died in April.

Harris was killed when a keg exploded while he was cleaning it at the Portsmouth, N.H., brewery.

Investigators said Harris was using a compressed air line to purge liquid from the interior of a plastic keg when the keg exploded and fatally struck him. During the investigation officials determined that the explosion resulted from excess air pressure introduced into the keg from the keg cleanout line. They found the line lacked an air regulator that would have limited its air pressure to less than 60 pounds per square inch, which is the maximum air pressure limit recommended by keg manufacturers.

OSHA also found that other employees who used the cleanout line were exposed to the same hazard while cleaning out steel kegs.

OSHA recommended a penalty of $13,000 for the violations.

Investigators also discovered several other unrelated deficiencies. These resulted in $50,500 in recommended penalties for the Craft Beer Alliance.

In response to the findings, Redhook released a statement saying that the investigation into the tragedy found that Redhook and the Craft Beer Alliance did not willfully violate workplace safety standards.

The statement, released by spokesman Ted Lane, also said the citations mentioned in the report have already been addressed. “The Portsmouth brewery uses compressed air to push waste beer out of returned kegs prior to washing and filling,” according to the statement. “The brewery believes it was operating safely because it has historically washed and filled only stainless steel beer kegs without incident.”