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A Caustic Cautionary tale.

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  • A Caustic Cautionary tale.

    2 months ago I wound up having roughly 30 litres of caustic solution spill out of our DE filter on to my back, head and right arm. Within 10 seconds of initial contact I was getting hosed down and stripped. Even with such prompt attention, you can see from the photos, the damage was quite severe. I am back to work now and have healed up quite well. I wanted to volunteer these photos for you all to use to educate staff or just gross yourselves out. I also wanted to take this opportunity to remind myself and the community to work safely and maintain a buffer between yourself and chemical operations.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/88502817@N05/

    Medical terms; deep dermis 2nd degree burns to 20% of me.

  • #2
    ouch

    You have me beat. I spilled caustic in my boots five years ago. Same story, I stripped down in the brewhouse in seconds and was being washed off. I had missed the door of the kettle and safe chemical handling procedures were not in place, hence no apron. My fellow brewer got me two five gallon buckets of beer for me to stand in to neutralize the chemicals and then to the hospital. 2 weeks later skin grafts were done on one foot that had stopped healing due to the severity of the burn. i was back to work in 6 weeks total time from when it happened. I couldn't imagine how bad that must have felt, and hope everyone sees the pictures and shares with their crews as a reminder of what we handle everyday.
    Cody Ragan
    River City Brewing Co.
    Spokane, Washington

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    • #3
      Thankyou Paul, I am sharing those photos where I work, as a reminder of the danger of what we all take for granted, every day.

      If I may ask, how exactly did this happen to you?

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      • #4
        Oh man, that does not look like fun. Glad you are back to work and healed up.

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        • #5
          Thank you for sharing pics from your catastrophic experience Paul. I will be sharing them with my brewers.

          A great reminder to us all of how essential humility is in the face of often dangerous brewery operations.

          Assume nothing.

          Evaluate all risks before every task every time.

          Sorry for your troubles, mate. I hope you have a full and speedy recovery.

          Pax.

          Liam
          Liam McKenna
          www.yellowbellybrewery.com

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          • #6
            Caustic gets the job done, but it sure can be nasty stuff when things don't go right.
            About 37 years ago, a friend of mine worked the bottle room at old Pabst brewery in NJ, back when returnable bottles were still in use (especially for bar/restaurant trade). One day he somehow took a small splash of caustic to the face, getting a very small amount in his eyes (of course, with caustic it doesn't take much...especially in the eyes).

            Quick thinking and good emergency measures in place at the brewery prevented any major damage, but he was out of commission for a couple of months. It could have been much worse.

            Ironically, the only major permanent side effect of his injury other than some increased sensitivity was that he could no longer drink beer...any beer, even the smallest quantity...without experiencing a debilitating headache (he assumed it was possible because of steroid treatments administered at the time of his injury, but was never given a definite cause).

            On a side note, when Pabst closed that plant in the mid 1980s, he moved on to work at the A-B plant a few miles away. He said with that move, he went from working in a 'brewery' to working in a 'factory.'

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            • #7
              Was this a heat burn or a chemical burn (or both)? If chemical, what was the strength of the solution? Truth be told, I get caustic working solution on my hands all the time with no effect, but even a tiny droplet of concentrate stings. In any event, ouch and glad you made a full recovery.

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              • #8
                answers

                As to the how;
                Dumping yeast into an floor drain, I had removed the drain cover to ease the draining of the yeast. I was crouched behind the filter dumping yeast. I pulled on a hose and it must have been bound on the filter as the filter shifted and rolled one wheel into the drain and dumped the hot caustic onto me.

                As to the what;
                2% caustic solution

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                • #9
                  What temperature do you run your caustic at? We try and run slightly under 140 to avoid this although it still hurts like hell sometimes if you get hit with it. That's intense- glad you ended up ok in the end.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Wreckingpaul
                    As to the how;
                    Dumping yeast into an floor drain, I had removed the drain cover to ease the draining of the yeast. I was crouched behind the filter dumping yeast. I pulled on a hose and it must have been bound on the filter as the filter shifted and rolled one wheel into the drain and dumped the hot caustic onto me.

                    As to the what;
                    2% caustic solution
                    I can see how that could happen, I've lost count of the amount of cringes watching someone (or myself) yanking on a snagged hose thinking anything could happen in the wrong circumstance.

                    I passed your photos on to every one of our worksites today. I also hope you are recovering well.

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                    • #11
                      Thanks for the well wishing everyone, I've been back to work for a couple weeks now and am feeling really good, save for a few extra pounds from my weeks of rest.

                      We run caustic between 60 and 80 C. If I remember correctly, in my haste on that day it was on the high end of that at least.

                      This was the result of a series of small oversights that, combined, resulted in this unfortunate outcome. Hopefully we can use this to remind ourselves to observe safe work habits and excersize the redundancies put in place to keep us safe.

                      Cheers.

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