SAFETY ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| WRITTEN BY DICK BARRETT |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||
istilleries can be dangerous places. In recent years, there have been fatalities (Silver Trail Distillery), injuries (Twister Distillery), and equipment/building damage (Tuthilltown) due to incidents that were preventable. We all know our insurance and worker’s comp rates are very high. This should cause all distillery owners and employees to consider what can be done, even beyond the required regulations and laws, to make our facilities safer. Within our industry, safety culture, engineering, explosion proofing, maintenance, and shared expertise should all be considered. First and most important, distillery owners must promote a “Culture of Safety.” This means that we must stop production whenever we sense something is not normal. It is much safer to figure out what is different and restart a run than make poor decisions while the still is running. We should avoid shortcuts (standing on stools, letting the still run unattended, not using correct personal protective equipment, etc.), and not ignore proper equipment training. Everyone needs to know what to do when something goes wrong, and new employees should have significant experience before being allowed to run the still by themselves.
PREVENT CARELESS MISTAKES There are engineering changes that can be made to equipment to increase safety. Here are some important ones to consider: mechanical stops to »» Add valves to prevent them from being turned to unsafe positions or combinations. an over-temperature »» Add sensor/control to the outlet of the product condenser which will shut off the heat source if the temperature gets too high. a flow sensor to »» Add recognize when cooling is interrupted. code and number »» Color valves so process sheets are unambiguous to help prevent mistakes.
One good practice to institute is a weekly safety walk-around, where different people look for issues each week. Insist on using process procedures with checklists, and ensure key items are initialed as they are completed to prevent anyone from skipping steps. It is also important to encourage all employees to bring up safety concerns and offer safety ideas. Extended explosion protection beyond current legal requirements can also make your facility much safer. Explosion-proof lighting is often expensive, so it tends to only be purchased where required. Consider buying used explosion-proof lights and extending the area protected. Make sure only non-sparking pumps are purchased, so no one can accidentally run alcohol through the wrong type of pump by mistake. Purchase a CO2 detector for the fermenter area, and make sure that adequate explosion-proof ventilation is used. For safety over time, maintenance is key. Regularly tighten all connections on the still. Purchase an inexpensive handheld ethanol detector and use it any time the still is taken apart to check for leaks on reassembly. Check that components that are purchased are correctly rated and appropriate for use in a distillery. Recently WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
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