by | General Liability, Safety, Small Business |

Micro and Craft Breweries Safety

Once a limited niche consumer’s market, the micro and craft brewing industry has seen phenomenal expansion in recent years throughout the United States.

Acadia Insurance has recognized this newest American growth wave, and has been a leading insurer partnering with a wide range of small- to mid-sized brewers in the Northeastern United States for the past several years.

As breweries have grown operationally, so have the risks of claims associated with expansion.

Aside from the brewing processes that have their own inherent risks, many breweries are now offering expanded services such as dining, banquet booking, retail deliveries, tours, and entertainment, to name a few.  Each expansion to your business operations will bring new risk factors that should be closely evaluated and addressed for maximum safety.

The good news is that your industry is well organized with trade associations that have numerous wide-ranging resources available to you that you are likely tapping into, or should be if you are not. Some of these include:

Master Brewers Association of the Americas ( offers excellent instructive information that addresses most, if not all, questions and resources that you would likely need.

Brewers Association ( brings perhaps a more direct approach toward services geared to small and independent craft brewers.

Brewers Guilds and Associations – Each of the New England States and New York have well-established trade guilds that bring a more direct approach of assistance.

We at Acadia also invite you as a policyholder to use our well-developed safety assets at no additional cost to you.  This can include an experienced Loss Control staff member visiting your brewery to provide field safety audits and training, and our Virtual Loss Control team assisting you in a wide range of safety management needs.

While the following safety checklist does not encompass all risks associated with your business, it does address the most frequent claim risks that we encounter, and which you might anticipate. 

Liquor Legal Liability

Because your business produces and sells an alcoholic beverage, you are responsible for the control of alcohol served on your premises to each patron.  Best practices require, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Developing an alcohol serving policy that covers all state-related alcohol serving laws.
  • Server training on the following topics: proper identification and age, when stop-serve to customers is necessary, proper interaction with persons who may have become intoxicated, creation of a consumption tracking system, identifying and controlling patrons entering the premises who appear to be intoxicated, offering a ride-share or taxi service where possible, and general group behavior awareness.
  • All servers must be certified, and recertified as necessary, for alcohol awareness training programs offered by the state, local police agency, or by certified third-party instruction, e.g., TIPS (Training for Intervention Procedures).
  • You may wish to employ a professional server who is also a certified trainer, or have an experienced server obtain a training certification to educate current and new staff.
  • It is recommended that any contract that you develop be legally drawn and/or reviewed by an attorney.

Employee Safety

As a growth industry, small-output breweries are increasingly being inspected by OSHA.  From a practical and legal standpoint, you are required to maintain as safe a workplace as possible at all times.  By following the OSHA regulations that apply to your business, you will have gone a long way toward providing that safe environment.  A few of the most critical items that you should explore relative to OSHA ( include:

  • The Globally Harmonized System for Hazard Communication, a system of classification and labeling of chemicals and hazardous materials, and accompanying materials in the form of Safety Data Sheets must be read and understood with training provided for each exposed worker. All training should be signed by the employee and trainer as documented proof of training.
  • Ergonomics has a focus mostly on lifting using proper techniques, but also performing tasks in body-stress positions.
  • Forklift Operations – operators must be certified at three-year intervals, or when there is a significant change in material handling procedures.
  • Confined Space and Permit-Required Confined Space is defined as confinement, limited access and restricted airflow that can result in hazardous conditions that would not normally arise in an open workplace, such as cleaning fermentation tanks. Permit Required has one or more of the following characteristics:
  • Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere;
  • Contains a material with the potential to engulf someone who enters the space;
  • Has an internal configuration that might cause an entrant to be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor that slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross section; and/or
  • Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazards.
  • Hot Surfaces –thermal barrier clothing and guards should be in use by those affected employees.
  • Fall Protection is necessary for employees working at elevated heights.

Premises Liabilities

With varying weather conditions always present in the Northeastern states, preventing slip, trip and fall-down injuries to customers and employees must be a top priority at all times.   Aside from regular customers, breweries often have a higher exposure from the increasing number of visitors for tasting, retail shopping purchases, and tours. Consideration needs to be given to indoor and outdoor walking surfaces, guest access restrictions, life safety management, and sound legally-drawn lease agreements for tenants, and performance contracts for contractors you hire.

Frequent checks of indoor surfaces for wet spots, outdoor walking and parking lot surfaces for snow and black ice should be made.

Your plan should include:

  • Dry non-slip mats at building pedestrian entry points, and appropriate caution signage.
  • Adequate amounts of snow and ice melting compounds.
  • Designated employees to monitor conditions and distribute compounds when and where necessary.
  • An active log as to conditions, time and day of application, and what was done.
  • Parking lot snow removal. Here again, detailed logs should be maintained similar to above.
  • If your snow and ice removal is done by a contractor, you should have a written and signed contract agreement as to what is to be done, when it needs to be done, and an indemnifying clause that holds you and your business harmless should the contractor not uphold the agreement, or cause an injury through their negligence. Here again, detailed activity logs should be maintained.
  • Likewise, all contractors that you hire should have similar, but separate, agreements. Preferably, your contracts should be legally drawn, or at minimum reviewed by your legal counsel for accuracy and completeness.
  • Primary and emergency exit pathways should be kept free of items such as storage at all times.
  • Illuminated exit signs and battery emergency lighting should be tested monthly, and repaired or replaced upon failure.
  • Inside floor and outside walkway and parking lot surfaces should be free from large cracks, holes, surface lifting, and un-cautioned elevation changes to avoid tripping hazards.
  • All tours should be guided by an experienced staff member.
  • Tenants within or on your property must be required to have coverage for their own property, the property of others in their care, and liability insurance for their areas.

Property Safety

Property safety concerns and areas of attention should include:

  • Ongoing building maintenance with special attention to roof condition.
  • Regular servicing of boiler and machinery.
  • Electrical Systems inspection and updating by a licensed electrical contractor.
  • Heating and Ventilation Systems – regular service and inspections by a licensed HVAC contractor.
  • Commercial Cooking safety concerns:
  • Regular cleaning of cooking equipment and surrounding surfaces.
  • Automatic Extinguishing System (AES) protection of cooking processes that use liquid and solid fuels. System should be wet chemical, UL-300 listed.
  • K-class portable extinguisher in kitchen.
  • Professional servicing of the AES and portable extinguisher at six-month intervals, upon discharge, or loss of pressure.
  • UL listed hood filters (baffle style) that are properly oriented within the hood opening and abut firmly to one another (no gaps)
  • Regular professional cleaning of hoods, filters and ventilation ducts at least semi-annually.
  • Vapor globes protecting incandescent bulbs within the hood canopy.
  • Combustible grain dust accumulation – frequent cleaning of all interior surfaces where organic grain dusts are being produced.

Commercial Vehicle Safety

Assuming that your business is not operating a mobile tour, your most significant vehicle risk will likely be transporting your product to area retail stores, taverns and restaurants, travel to outside sales and marketing events, and parts and supplies pickup travel.  Helpful suggestions include:

  • Develop pre-planned routes for frequent travel destinations including consideration of road conditions and avoiding congested areas and high traffic time-periods. Conduct Motor Vehicle Record Reviews on a pre-hire and annual basis for all employees that use company vehicles for business purposes.
  • Establish a procedure to obtain and evaluate Motor Vehicle Record Reviews on a pre-hire and yearly basis for all employees that use company vehicles for business purposes. Develop standards for acceptable motor vehicle records that can be used to review all motor vehicle records.
  • Create a functioning distracted-driver policy that does not permit the use of a cell phone or other electronic devices while driving. The policy should cover how and when electronic devices can be used during travel (e.g. vehicle must be parked and safely positioned off the road).
  • For Breweries with larger delivery trucks and trailers 10,001 GVW or greater, familiarize yourself with DOT requirements associated with your operations for that type of vehicle. Employees should be trained on all applicable DOT requirements, and always remember to safely secure the load from movement and tip over. Check arrangements following each delivery.
  • For those who operate their personal vehicle for company business, verify that adequate personal auto insurance covering physical damage and liability is in force. Acceptable coverage limits should be established, with recommended $500,000 Combined Single Limit (CSL) for today’s minimum coverage. Driver employees should provide a certificate of insurance or declaration page as proof of insurance, initially and upon subsequent renewals, and placed in personnel and/or driver files. Personal vehicle maintenance should be held to the same standards as company-owned vehicles.

Please feel free to reach out to Acadia Insurance’s Virtual Loss Control Team with any questions regarding this checklist or brewery safety.  The Virtual Loss Control Team can get you in touch with an experienced Loss Control Professional to assist you with your needs.

Virtual Loss Control Toll Free: 800-870-1170 Ext 5701

[email protected]


Acadia Insurance is pleased to share this material with its customers. Please note, however, that nothing in this document should be construed as legal advice or the provision of professional consulting services. This material is for general informational purposes only, and while reasonable care has been utilized in compiling this information, no warranty or representation is made as to accuracy or completeness.

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