OSHA Cites Craft Brewer After Fatal Keg Explosion

A worker died in April 2012 in Portsmouth, N.H., when a plastic keg exploded as he was using a compressed air line to purge liquid from it.

OSHA announced its Concord Area Office has cited Portland, Ore.-based Craft Brew Alliance Inc. for 14 allegedly serious violations and proposed $63,500 in fines in connection with the April 24 death of an employee at the company's Redhook Brewery in Portsmouth, N.H. He was using a compressed air line to purge liquid from the interior of a plastic keg when the keg exploded and fatally struck him, according to the agency's news release.

An investigation by the Area Office found the line lacked an air regulator that would have limited its air pressure to less than 60 PSI, which is the maximum air pressure limit recommended by keg manufacturers, according to OSHA, which said in this case, other employees who used the cleanout line were exposed to the same hazard while cleaning steel kegs.

One serious violation related to 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 debris should the kegs explode due to being overpressurized," said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's New Hampshire area director. "One means of correcting this hazard, among others, and preventing future deaths or injuries is to install an air pressure regulator on the keg cleanout line so that the air pressure does not exceed manufacturers' recommended maximum."

Thirteen additional serious violations involve deficiencies in procedures for working 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.

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