An electrical contractor was severely burned Tuesday afternoon while trying to repair equipment at Trillium Brewing Company’s production facility in Canton, Massachusetts.
According to Canton Fire Department Chief Charles Doody, the independent contractor was exposed to “boiling liquid and suffered significant burn injuries on a large portion of his body” just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday. The man was flown by medical helicopter to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The Associated Press has reported that he is in serious but stable condition.
Initial reports conflicted on the injured man’s age, but Brewbound confirmed with Doody that the unnamed man is 36-years-old.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the incident, Doody said, adding that he anticipates the investigation will be “pretty straightforward.”
“Trillium is a very good company in the community, and they’re very cooperative, and they’ve always done things by the book regulation wise, so I don’t anticipate there’s going to be any prolonged investigation with them,” he said. “Probably what you’re going to find out is it’s going to be more in recommendations on how to undertake this repair process, so something like this doesn’t occur again. But I don’t really see this as a negligence-type of thing that Trillium did something terribly wrong. I just don’t believe it to be true.”
Doody told Brewbound the man was working on “some type of vat” that was not operating correctly. However, he was unclear on the exact manner of the issue with the equipment.
“It was an unfortunate industrial type of accident, and it didn’t really impact the retail operation or the majority of the brewing operation,” he added. “It was kind of isolated to a smaller piece of equipment in an area adjacent to the tasting room of the facility.”
Trillium representatives did not return Brewbound’s requests for comment. However, the company released the following statement today on Facebook and Twitter:
“Yesterday afternoon, a contractor who is a good friend of ours, was working on equipment in the brewery and was injured. Canton Fire and Rescue crews arrived on scene quickly and transported him to the hospital. We appreciate the concern that everyone has shown, and will pass along well wishes for his recovery.”
According to Bureau of Labor statistics, nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in breweries increased between 2011 (160 incidents) and 2015 (390 incidents). The number of nonfatal injuries and incidents peaked at 530 in 2014. In 2016, the most recent year in which data is available, 330 nonfatal injury and illness cases were recorded.
According to a 2013 Reuters report, four people were killed in craft brewery workplace accidents between 2009 and 2012, including the 2009 death of Mark Moynihan, a 39-year-old contractor for Calhoun’s Bar-B-Q & Brewery in Knoxville, Tennessee, who died after suffering burns to his body.
Leaders from industry trade group the Brewers Association (BA) have routinely discussed brewhouse safety during its annual Craft Brewers Conference gatherings.
“The Brewers Association takes safety very seriously,” Chris Swersey, the BA’s supply chain specialist, wrote to Brewbound via email. “Our thoughts are with the injured worker and all involved as we gather information about the accident.”
The BA, which represents the interests of small and independent brewing companies, offers several resources and educational programs on safety, prevention and protection practices, Swersey said. Among those programs are free online brewery safety training courses as well as access to the BA’s safety ambassador, Matt Stinchfield.
“Valuing safety and a culture required to support it is one of our core values and beliefs,” he wrote.
Massachusetts Brewers Guild executive director Katie Stinchon told Brewbound that the state organization works with OSHA to make available representatives from the government agency to discuss its free consultation services with brewers.
“We are also currently applying for grant funding through the state to bring additional safety and educational workshops to our member breweries this fall,” she wrote.