The purpose of this safety alert is to remind business owners and workers to take care when cleaning beer lines.

BACKGROUND

We were recently notified of an incident where a worker received burns to the face, permanent loss of vision in one eye, and significant impairment in the other, after being splashed with beer line cleaning chemicals.

SafeWork NSW was recently notified of an incident where a worker received burns to the face, permanent loss of vision in one eye, and significant impairment in the other, after being splashed with beer line cleaning chemicals. The process for cleaning the beer lines was to de-gas an empty keg and fill it with a mixture of commercial beer line cleaner, which had been diluted in water. The keg was then connected to the beer delivery system and used to flush the lines clean.

The worker attempted to pour undiluted beer line cleaner into a keg using a funnel connected to a keg coupler. The keg was still pressurised and as the worker depressed the coupler handle, the beer line cleaner was blown back out of the funnel, splashing onto the worker’s face and eyes.

CONTRIBUTING FACTORS

Although experienced in beer line cleaning, the worker was not wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and may not have understood the potential risks of working with beer line cleaning chemicals.
The beer line cleaner used by the worker consisted of two liquids which are diluted in water and mixed together for use. The safety data sheet (SDS) for one of the liquids specifies that it can cause severe burns if it comes into contact with the skin and eyes, and recommends the use of protective clothing, boots, gloves and eye/face protection when in use.

ACTION REQUIRED

Business owners and workers should review their current systems of work and the level of training provided to workers who are responsible for the cleaning of beer lines. If they are not appropriate, improvements should be made immediately.

When reviewing current systems of work for beer line cleaning, business owners and workers should:

  • Ensure the beer line cleaning system is the most appropriate for the delivery system used – ie there are two possible methods for cleaning beer lines. One option is the ‘static pot’, where beer lines are filled with cleaning products using a pump or pressurised gas, and left to soak for a period of time. The other option is ‘recirculating’, where a pump is used to continuously circulate the cleaning product through beer lines that have been connected into an endless loop. The static pot method, which was used in this case, should only be used when other methods are not practical.
  • Ensure the handling and storage of chemicals is in accordance with manufacturer/supplier recommendations and the instructions provided on the SDS.
  • Provide appropriate PPE such as long sleeves/pants, enclosed shoes, aprons, gloves, eyewear or face shields and train workers in how to use them correctly.
  • Provide appropriate first aid equipment, advice and assistance – eg eye wash and shower facilities, easy access to emergency contact numbers and avoid working alone.

Should an incident occur where a worker does come into contact with hazardous beer line cleaning chemicals, follow the first aid instructions listed in the SDS. This may include rinsing the skin or eyes with fresh water for an extended period of time and contacting emergency services to seek further first aid advice.

MORE INFORMATION

Refer to the below codes of practice

Download a PDF version of this safety alert.

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