Back

10/1/2019 Shawn Patrick

OSHA and Distilleries

Safety in distilleries is and should be a primary concern for any owner and manager. Not only is watching out for all your worker's well being the moral thing to do, it's also cost-effective. Maintaining an OSHA compliant distillery is essential to saving money and maintaining a safe and happy work environment for your employees.

Injured employees cost in lost productivity and increased insurance premiums. According to Injury Facts, $39,000 is the average cost for an injury requiring medical treatment. Some safety rules may seem overreaching and cause people to complain.  But chances are they appreciate that their employer cares. That said, workplace safety can all too easily get overlooked even by the most safety-conscious distillers. It's easy to get lost in the shuffle and routine.

Routine and Safety 

Routines are a given. People seek them out and create them in their daily lives. This applies to everyone working at a distillery. We go in, do our job the way we’re used to doing it, often mechanically. If we make it through the day with all our fingers and toes still attached, it must be safe. Right? 

The problem with routines is that people will also create shortcuts, often without even knowing they’re doing it. Or they get so used to a task that they perform it on autopilot without fully registering what they’re doing, like a driver shifting gears. 

All jobs should be reviewed from time to time to ensure that essential safety steps aren't some of the things being skipped or overlooked. Vigilance can be hard for someone doing a task they’ve performed countless times.

Distractions Happen 

Distilleries deal with small issues every day. They contend with the problems and responsibilities every small business has to deal with. But distillers are also under a lot of scrutiny and regulation than companies in other industries. 

The TTB is continuously looking over your shoulder every step of the way and any mistakes they catch can be costly. Compliance gobbles up a great deal of time and attention. Other urgent matters can accidentally get overlooked. 

Ensuring an OSHA Compliant Distillery

 OSHA fines for serious safety infractions are $13,260. A work area may be completely safe, but that doesn’t mean it meets the safety regulations put out by OSHA. What should a distillery do? Two reasonable solutions aren't mutually exclusive. One is to schedule a safety day. Each employee goes over OSHA regulations for their work area, actively searches for anything that could be considered unsafe, or could be made safer. After that, they fix it.

Next is to hire a safety manager. It doesn’t have to be a new position. Several independent contractors offer this service. The safety manager comes in and consults with you and your employees about what would make the distillery a safer place to work, and what needs to be changed to keep OSHA happy.

 

Safety is a huge consideration for any business in Food and Beverage. Not taking the proper precautions could cost thousands in medical bills and damage to equipment and your brand. Between OSHA and TTB, distilleries are under a great deal of scrutiny, which is why it's important to develop safety routines and special days in the calendar to stay on top of regulations.

Tags: OSHA, TTB, liquor manufacturing, distillery laws, Craft Distillery Startup, distillery operations

Shawn Patrick

Written by Shawn Patrick