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Thread: Tragic Accident Claims Brewery Worker

  1. #1
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    Sep 2002
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    Tragic Accident Claims Brewery Worker

    In a rare and tragic brewery accident, the industry has lost one of its own.
    A brewery worker died from injuries received during an explosion of a beer keg Tuesday at Redhook Ale Brewery in Portsmouth, N.H.

    The employee was identified as Newington resident Ben Harris.

    Assistant Fire Chief Steve Achilles said the brewery employee had been pressurizing a keg by filling it with air as part of a cleaning process to remove residual beer.

    “The keg failed and exploded, and he was injured by parts of the keg,” Achilles said.

    Andy Thomas, vice president of Redhook’s commercial operations, said the Redhook organization is “saddened by the tragic event that occurred at the Portsmouth brewery this morning, resulting in the death of one of our employees.”

    “Our deepest sympathies go out to his family,” Thomas said. “We are doing everything in our power to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragic accident and have closed down all non-essential operations at the Portsmouth brewery, including the pub, while the investigation continues.”

  2. #2
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    There has been a failed pressure relief on a tank at Otter Creek in Vermont, a burst tank that shot through a wall at Franconia Brewing in Texas, and now this.
    Seems like the Brewers Association should compile these events for all the industry to understand.

  3. #3
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    Oct 2008
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    Can anyone shed any light on what might have happened in this case, and what might be done to prevent it, or at least guard against it?
    John Little | Auburn, Alabama
    General Counsel, Southern Farmhouse

  4. #4
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    Sep 2004
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    Story gets sadder...

    The story gets sadder.....Sounds like the man killed had been recently married and expecting a child.

    From the obituary posted online...In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests that memorial contribution be made to the: The Alysha Miller Harris Baby Fund c/o TD Bank, 20 International Drive, Portsmouth, NH 03801, (603) 430-3812, to benefit his unborn child.

  5. #5
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    I am pretty curious as well. Seems any operating pressure on a co2 line wouldn't be high enough to burst a keg , at least in the pub settings I've worked in. And assuming the keg is in decent shape.

    It seems most quality sankey heads have PRV's that are set around 40-50 psi .. maybe not so with all filler and cleaning heads. I sometimes crank a reg up to increase flowrate but even in such cases rarely have exceeded 35-40 psi.

    Sincere sympathy to the friends, co-workers, and esp the family of Ben.
    Jeff Byrne

    12 year pro craft brewer *NOW available for hire...
    Auburn, Wa - for now

  6. #6
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    Nov 2008
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    My Heart Goes Out To His Family

    I was recently married and almost died from an exploding bung in 2004. If I hadn't been fortunate enough to come to before I'd lost too much blood and been able to reach my coworkers, I would have left a widow and a new 6-year old stepson. I know that we don't know all of the circumstances surrounding this tragedy, but I feel I should share my emotions since it hits so close to home with me. I'm so very sorry for the loss of your loved one.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by S.Brewer
    I was recently married and almost died from an exploding bung in 2004. If I hadn't been fortunate enough to come to before I'd lost too much blood and been able to reach my coworkers, I would have left a widow and a new 6-year old stepson. I know that we don't know all of the circumstances surrounding this tragedy, but I feel I should share my emotions since it hits so close to home with me. I'm so very sorry for the loss of your loved one.
    how did it happen? We can all learn from these experiences. Please share.

  8. #8
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    Apr 2008
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    22
    From a Statement by Redhook:

    "There is an assessment underway to reveal exactly what happened Tuesday morning. Although the investigation is still in process, there are several facts that we can confirm:

    • The accident was caused by an exploding plastic keg ;
    • The keg was not owned or used by Redhook Brewery or any other CBA brewery;
    • It is normal protocol for the brewery to receive kegs that aren’t ours from time to time;
    • Ben was handling the keg at the time it exploded.
    "

  9. #9
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    Dec 2007
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    plastic kegs equal danger

    I wonder how many exploded plastic kegs it will take before all manufacturers of such a ridiculous idea are out of business...hopefully none more.
    Angering and so tragic that such a ridiculous product is putting us in mortal danger...just to save a few bucks.
    Sadly
    Jay Stoyanoff
    Brewmaster
    Plattsburgh Brewing Co.
    Plattsburgh, NY

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by monkeybrewer
    I wonder how many exploded plastic kegs it will take before all manufacturers of such a ridiculous idea are out of business...hopefully none more.
    Angering and so tragic that such a ridiculous product is putting us in mortal danger...just to save a few bucks.
    That's a pretty harsh accusation... do you have any links/data (aside from this incident) to back up the assertion that plastic kegs are more dangerous than stainless? All materials have pros/cons but I haven't seen a trend of failure that your comment implies.

  11. #11
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    posts here...

    Just referencing the posts on this forum with pics to boot. I've never seen any posts and pics of blown up steel kegs...
    harsh is a product that is obviously inferior to steel being sold as equal...
    this should piss us all off
    Cheers
    Jay Stoyanoff
    Brewmaster
    Plattsburgh Brewing Co.
    Plattsburgh, NY

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by monkeybrewer
    Just referencing the posts on this forum with pics to boot.
    I'd love to know some links to these threads.

    Seriously... I'm not trying to pick a fight or otherwise discount what you're saying... I just haven't seen evidence that plastic kegs are an inferior product above and beyond the normal material/lifespan issues that one could reasonably infer from the cost difference. If that's the case, I think it's helpful to be documented.

    It's one thing to say a Ford Fiesta is inferior to a Ford Mustang... it's another thing to call it a Ford Pinto.

  13. #13
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    Dec 2007
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    Plattsburgh, NY USA
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    no fight here either...

    first thing I said when I heard of plastic kegs was "they are going to kill somebody some day, mark my words". Unfortunately that day has come and that's enough for me to continue to stay away and speak of what should be intuitive...no fight, just anger and sadness about an accident that should not be possible...
    that's all I've got to say about that...
    Cheers
    Jay Stoyanoff
    Brewmaster
    Plattsburgh Brewing Co.
    Plattsburgh, NY

  14. #14
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    Oct 2002
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    Granite, NH, USA
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    15

    Plastic Kegs

    Just checked a plastic keg supplier's specs on a 1/2 BBL. Max working pressure 60psi. That's less than half of a stainless keg. Do you know how fast you can get on a loading dock. Pressurizing in addition to remove the ullage. Scary stuff. There's just no room for error. Hopefully, we can learn some important safety lessons. Know your pressures before you pressurize. Our hearts go out to Redhook and Ben's family.

    Paul Davis
    Prodigal Brewing Company

  15. #15
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    Jan 2006
    Location
    Lawrence, KS
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    safety first

    Quote Originally Posted by Fullcourt
    There has been a failed pressure relief on a tank at Otter Creek in Vermont, a burst tank that shot through a wall at Franconia Brewing in Texas, and now this.
    Seems like the Brewers Association should compile these events for all the industry to understand.
    I've served on the seminar selection committee for the Brewers Association for many years. Every year the question comes up "do we need a safety seminar this year at CBC". Every year the answer is a resounding Yes - we always need to make room for a talk on safe brewing practices. When you consider the size and longevity of a brewery like Red Hook, or any of it's CBA partners, and realize that they most likely have devoted significant resources to safety in their breweries, it's an eye opener when something like this still happens. I strongly encourage any brewery, big or small, with personnel attending this year's CBC to plan on having someone attend this years Brewing Safety Roundtable at 3:30 on Thursday.
    Steve Bradt
    Free State Brewing Co.
    Lawrence, KS

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