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some people have reported still pressure relief valves that were not correct for the application, which can be deadly. Another good safety practice is to keep the production area clean and organized. Part of the cleaning process should include routinely inspecting equipment for signs of wear, leaks, etc. Putting maintenance items in a scheduled program (e.g., check oil in gearboxes, change batteries in devices, put water in fork truck batteries, etc.) is a good way to prevent equipment from creating safety issues. Also, don’t hesitate to take advantage of industry expertise. Before building out your distillery, join your state’s distillers’ guild and visit as many distilleries as you can to get their ideas on how to make your distillery safer. Take advantage of local architects, fire departments, fire inspectors, insurance company experts, and contractors to evaluate your facility, and shamelessly steal best practices. Some additional recommendations: an HVAC contractor with strong engineering/safety »» Hire expertise. your boiler in a separate room with positive air »» Install pressure. a minimum 10-foot electrical clearance from the still »» Keep and other alcohol sources. electrical outlets 5 feet above the floor, and don’t use »» Install extension cords. »» Install a well-designed sprinkler system. fork truck safety, and emphasize extra care around »» Teach tanks. safety cages around tank outlet valves to prevent »» Install accidental damage. consideration of the routing of electrical lines and »» Careful transfer hoses is important as slips and falls are a common injury problem.

key phone numbers so that people can be reached »» Post quickly. a Safety Emergency Plan and review it regularly to »» Have prevent a small problem from becoming a big problem. Laws, building codes, and regulations are important, but not always sufficient to ensure safety in distilling facilities. It is in our best interest to do further safety improvements to earn our distilleries the best safety record possible. In the long run it will save us money, pain, and maybe even our lives or the lives of people close to us.


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Dick Barrett is a whiskey engineer at Black Button Distilling in Rochester, NY. For more information visit www.blackbuttondistilling.com or call (585) 730-4512. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  


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Profile for Artisan Spirit Magazine

Artisan Spirit: Winter 2016  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.

Artisan Spirit: Winter 2016  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.