Three Key SOPs for Safety in the Brewhouse

You’ve built a brand around recipes that were good enough to scale, landed yourself in a full blown production facility, and suddenly you’re operating in confined spaces, with high voltage electricity, steam, compressed air, caustic chemicals, and industrial equipment. These dangers are present in every brewery, but because you make beer not steel, the risks and regulations are often overlooked.

So how do we make our breweries a safer and productive environment for experienced and inexperienced employees alike?

The Foundation for Safety: Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

It goes without saying that well-defined and documented processes are the foundation of a complaint and safe brewery, allowing employees to tackle problems holistically instead of just jumping in blind. When utilized in daily operations, SOPs promote internal communication and reduce potential hazards. Let’s start with the top 3:

#1 Clean In Place (CIP)

CIP is one of the biggest safety processes in the brewery. While it doesn’t directly impact your brewing recipe, it protects your name, brand, and most importantly, your customers. Having your CIP SOPs documented and available to employees is critical to producing a safe and consistent beer. Not to mention following the correct SOP prevents the risk of cross contamination, and the dangerous mixing of chemicals in the brew house.

#2 Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO)

SOPs for Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO) protect employees from the unexpected start-up of machinery and equipment (29 CFR 1910.147—The Control of Hazardous Energy, Lockout/Tagout). LOTO processes are required for fermentation tanks, mash tuns, packers, bottling lines, kettles, and any other equipment with the potential to injure an employee. Insufficient documentation and tracking of these processes is one the most cited violations by OSHA.

#3 Confined Space Entry (CSE)

Examples of Confined Space Entry (CSE) in the brew house include inspection of a fermenter, any time a body part crosses the threshold of a manhole cover, and entering your MLT/MT or kettle for inspection or maintenance. The right SOPs ensure that there are no hazards in the space and it’s safe for human entry. Having an established and posted CSE SOP can save lives and should be present in every brewery!

Safety is the Linchpin of Growth

Regulatory bodies such as the TTB, FDA, and OSHA each have separate requirements for your brew house, all designed to produce a safe, trackable, and manageable product produced in a work place free of avoidable hazards. Still, falling out of compliance and acquiring bad habits is easy to do, and can lead to severe consequences for your employees and the stability of your enterprise.

Larger breweries, with their safety managers and enterprise-level processes, use Uptime Dynamics to manage SOPs in a central organized location and give team members easy access to SOP’s ( because what good are SOPs if you don’t use them?) – but if you don’t yet have SOPs in place, that doesn’t mean you’re not ready to streamline your operations, improve worker safety, and reduce maintenance costs.

As engineers who love craft beer, we’re here to help.

Don’t Barrel Age your Brewery’s Safety

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