Brewers Association Shares Results from Draught Beer Line Safety Survey

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Between the months of October and December 2020, the Brewers Association (BA) conducted a needs assessment as a required part of the development of “Hazard Reduction Practices for Cleaning Draught Beer Lines,” an online course funded by a Susan Harwood Training Grant from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This needs assessment will help inform content development and delivery, as well as the target audience for the pilot training program. Focus group sessions with the BA Draught Beer Quality and Safety Subcommittees, as well as an Advisory Committee informed an electronic survey distributed to all BA members, non-members, wholesalers, retailers, and through various external channels such as the Master Brewers Association of the Americas. Reasonable effort was made to make this survey widely available and collect a diverse set of responses. A total of 795 responses were collected through the electronic survey and high level results are summarized in this report.

Survey Highlights

  • Survey respondents were primarily brewery owners responsible for performing beer line cleaning at their organization.
  • Responses around safety practices suggest that many breweries are not OSHA compliant, supporting the need for this training to emphasize safety and applicable OSHA standards.
  • The majority of respondents indicated perceived value in having an online training resource for beer line cleaning that aids in OSHA compliance and that they would be likely to participate.

Demographics

The first portion of the survey was meant to better understand respondents’ background and relationship with draught beer line cleaning. A majority of survey respondents work at breweries (73%) and identify as an owner or employer (64%). Survey respondents were widely distributed across the U.S. with at least one response collected from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Most survey respondents work at small businesses with 10 or less employees (59%) or between 11-50 (24%). Interestingly, 79% of respondents indicated that company employees were responsible for performing beer line cleaning with 16% contracting a third-party line cleaner and 5% performing no line cleaning at all. Looking at these responses together, it can be assumed that most of the survey respondents are brewery owners responsible for performing line cleaning at their organization.

Safe Work Practices

Only 26% of respondents indicated that they have a dedicated health and safety employee at their organization, suggesting that most lack the resources to identify and mitigate work place hazards. While the majority of respondents said they utilize standard operating procedures (SOPs) (84%), a much smaller percentage of respondents implement practices in compliance with OSHA standards:

  • 36% of respondents performed a hazard assessment to determine appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • 17% provided PPE training
  • 39% provided eyewash stations
  • An additional 12% responded that they did none of the above

In addition, 69.4% were not aware of OSHA’s General Duty Clause. These survey responses support the need for this training to emphasize safety and applicable OSHA standards. Of those who responded to this survey, one in 10 have experienced, or know someone who experienced, a workplace injury when performing or working near active beer line cleaning operations. While this percentage may seem low, these types of injuries (such as caustic introduced to the eyes or mouth) are known to be debilitating. This low injury rate also underrepresents beer retailers who tend to have more complicated draught setups.

Training Program

A series of questions were meant to gauge respondents’ perceived value of a draught line safety course. Most showed overwhelming support for the training program: 86% of respondents indicated that it was important to very important to have an online training resource for beer line cleaning that aids in OSHA compliance, and 87% of respondents indicated that they were likely to very likely to participate in training. Many commented that they would specifically find online training to be useful since it allows flexibility with schedules and improves accessibility. It was suggested that the training contain a series of brief and informative videos available on demand.

Future Directions

This needs assessment provides justification for a draught line safety training program and direction for program and content development. While this training program will undoubtedly be valuable for brewers, there are exponentially more retail accounts with draught beer systems across the US. In the future, it would be helpful to better engage with retailers to solicit training needs from this important industry segment. Additionally, there were many comments requesting an awareness level training for sales staff and front-of-house workers; this may be yet another gap to address in future iterations of the training program.

The Brewers Association, at the time of initial publication of this document in November 2020, is funded by $79,725 federal funds, which constitutes 100 percent of the program budget. 0 percent, or $0 of the program budget, is financed through non-governmental sources.