By Bernie Silkowski, Director of Loss Prevention Operations
Since 1912, Ohio’s workers’ compensation system has helped workers and employers cope with workplace injuries. But central to our mission is preventing those injuries from ever occurring in the first place.
Fewer accidents and injuries mean safe, healthy, skilled and productive employees.
While all jobs come with some element of risk, our job in BWC is to make sure risk is measured and mitigated wherever possible.
BWC does this through our Division of Safety and Hygiene, which is staffed by workplace safety, industrial hygiene, and ergonomics professionals who help employers develop and maintain effective safety-management programs.
We keep a close eye on industry trends and aim to reach new and growing employers as quickly as possible before safety becomes a major issue.
We understand that while employers in emerging industries want to prioritize safety, they are still perfecting processes and learning important lessons as they grow. They are often budding entrepreneurs with a small staff and on a shoestring budget who want to keep their employees safe but may not know how.
This is true of many craft brewers. Most are newer operations and many were started by homebrewers operating a business for the first time. In fact, nationwide, one-third of all craft brewers have been in business less than three years. In Ohio alone, there are nearly 300 craft breweries with 65 more known to be in the works!
Staff in these craft breweries wear multiple hats and hold a vast array of responsibilities. Many of these breweries simply can’t afford to employ a full-time safety specialist as do large regional and national breweries. Reaching these employers early will help build a culture of safety in the industry into the future.
Yesterday BWC joined OSHA, the Ohio Craft Brewers Association, the Brewers Association, and the Master Brewers Association of the Americas (District Midwest) in creating the Ohio Craft Brewery Alliance to lend our respective expertise to help this rapidly expanding industry grow with safety in mind.
BWC will leverage our professional safety staff to help develop safety programs and connect brewers to free resources and services and BWC’s one-of-a-kind safety library. These BWC consultants from our local loss prevention offices and the OSHA On-Site Consultation program will perform safety management consultations, conduct walk-thru inspections, identify hazards, and link brewers to specialized, on-site or online safety training. As always, our assistance is at no cost to the employers.
For their part the brewer associations will openly share all information, resources, and best practices freely with all craft brewers nationwide including those who are not members of the associations. All signatories agree to participate in forums and other opportunities to promote safety.
Ultimately, brewers who work toward a goal of identifying, correcting or mitigating hazards and fostering a proactive approach to safety can create a safer work environment. These measures may also help lower costs for workers’ compensation.
We’re excited to be a part of this alliance to help elevate safety in Ohio’s craft breweries.
This is the type of commitment we need to build a culture of safety in every Ohio workplace.
Special thanks go to Keith Bullock, OSHA On-Site Safety and Health Consultant, for coordinating the alliance with all parties. Keith and other BWC consultants are available to advise breweries and direct them to the necessary programs and resources. Breweries can call 1-800-282-1425 to request assistance.