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Aug 29

Protecting Employees from Hot Surfaces in the Brew House

Below is an excerpt from our Brewery Safety Program which will be officially launched on November 1, 2012.

The Brewery Safety Program will free to any and all to help breweries improve the safety of their work environment.  You can sign up now and have the program e-mailed to you the second it is ready. Head on over to our Brewery Safety page to get it started.


Breweries have hot surfaces present every day during operations, and most employees have learned or been educated on how to avoid them.
OSHA requirements are to insulate or guard against contact from pipes or other exposed surfaces having an external surface temperature of 140°F or higher and located within 7 feet measured vertically from the floor or working level, or 15 inches horizontally from stairways and fixed ladders.

The standard does allow an exception for operations with consideration for the nature of the work or where the size or configuration of the hot surfaces makes guarding or insulating impracticable.


Every brewery is set up differently, and there is no single solution to the concern of protecting employees from hot surfaces.  Insulation is commonly found on steam lines and as a priority, rightly so, since they are much hotter than other surfaces in the brewing operation.  The best solution to managing this hazard is to educate employees, affix warning signs or decals, place barriers such as expanded steel or hand rails, and continually remind employees in safety meetings.  When planning expansions or installation of new equipment, locate transfer piping as much as possible in locations were contact with hot surfaces is less likely.  Keep records of minor burns, and focus any problem-solving efforts on areas or activities where there is an upward trend of thermal burns.

While on the topic of hot pipes and hot surfaces there is value in mentioning that brewery employees must understand that immediate first aid for thermal burns is essential in managing burn severity.  Use of the emergency shower or eyewash, which is traditionally considered for chemical exposure, should be taken advantage of if an employee suffers a thermal burn.  Copious amounts of cool water gently applied to burned skin can reduce the severity or “thickness” of the burn.  Of course, in the event of any serious burns, medical treatment should be sought immediately.