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Heightened occurrence of work injury reported at craft breweries

Micro-breweries and craft breweries, which operate on low budgets and may not have been in business for very long, are creating excellent products that many consumers cannot get enough of. Unfortunately, what many residents of Wisconsin do not know is that these small-scale breweries do not always provide safe working conditions for their employees. During the timeframe of 2009 to 2012, for example, there have been at least four fatal accidents at United States craft brewery facilities and work injury appears to happen more frequently at these locations.

In 2009, for example, a worker had crawled deep inside a brewing chamber to fix a crack at a small-scale craft brewery. When he lit the torch to weld the crack shut, the interior of the tank immediately combusted into flames because of high oxygen content found inside. The man, who suffered serious burns all over his body, crawled out of the tank to safety. However, his injuries were so severe that he died 75 days later.

In addition to the fatalities referenced above, the number of safety violations at craft breweries are reportedly quadruple the number found at large-scale brewery operations. Some experts suggest that the safety violations occurring at small-scale breweries is in fact far worse than is indicated by official figures. Some experts believe that many injuries, even serious ones, are not always being reported.

At this time, some small breweries are making efforts to send their workers to safety training seminars and some are upgrading equipment to safer specifications. However, it appears that craft brewery workers still face heightened dangers on the job as compared to workers at longer established and larger beer companies. Any brewery worker who has suffered a work injury may be able to file a legal claim to seek compensation. Family members of Wisconsin workers who were killed on the job may also be able to file a claim for monetary compensation.

Source: jsonline.com, "Fast-growing U.S. craft brewers struggle with worker safety," M.B. Pell, July 14, 2013

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