Trillium Brewing Company under investigation after worker suffers 'significant' burns

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by Todd, Jun 7, 2018.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,620) Aug 23, 1996 California


  2. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,435) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    I'm not sure what to say about this but it sounds like the kettle overflowed on top of him. How that happened I don't know, he must have been working underneath for some odd reason. Or, maybe he opened up a pipe that was attached to the kettle. "Some say they saw parts of his skin peeling off" - that I find a little hard to believe, at least to any real extent, but maybe. Perhaps he was stuck and couldn't get out of harm's way. Regardless, it's a sad day for all involved, and the whole brewing community. I wish everyone well.
    #2 NeroFiddled, Jun 7, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2018
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  3. tzieser

    tzieser Meyvn (1,001) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey

    Yeah, I read about this accident on Tuesday over on There is also a discussion about it over on the BA Trillium forum. Totally sucks, hope he is doing okay.
  4. oldbean

    oldbean Aspirant (272) Jun 30, 2005 Massachusetts

    Well, that sucks. First and foremost I hope the injured contractor comes out of this ok, obviously with regard to his health but financially as well. Secondly, I hope this isn't found to be the fault of Trillium due to their negligence, irresponsibility, etc, which could potentially be bad news for the brewery. It would certainly be an enormous disappointment in my eyes and I'm sure many more of their customers.
  5. Oktoberfiesta

    Oktoberfiesta Aspirant (251) Nov 16, 2013 New Mexico

    "Working on equipment" vs. a boil over from a brewer brewing beer. This sounds tricky.

    What could possibly cause hot liquid to be present in a situation where a contractor is trying to fix something? Boiling water stayed in the pipes, or they opened the wrong valve?

    Were they brewing as they were working? I've homebrewed small 10 gallon batches and have seen some craziness with boil overs. But this seems different
  6. honkey

    honkey Zealot (544) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
    Premium Industry

    It sounds like a bad boil over to me which is one of the risks of working in a brewery. I would doubt there was negligence, but that it was just a really terrible accident. I’ve seen boil overs that shot boiling wort out of the kettle like a volcano maybe 10 feet in the air. It is terrifying.
  7. oldbean

    oldbean Aspirant (272) Jun 30, 2005 Massachusetts

    Ok, so then my idiot's question is, if that's a thing that can happen, shouldn't rule #1 on the brewery floor be to not be working in an area that's exposed to a potential boil over?
  8. Oktoberfiesta

    Oktoberfiesta Aspirant (251) Nov 16, 2013 New Mexico

    Why not throw negligence at the producer of the brew house? If it wasn't a boil over, and maybe a stuck valve or something flat out broke that shouldnt have, and catastrophically went bad, I think thats vastly different than trying to fix something as they were brewing, and he was under the boil over area. That just sounds stupid but feasible.
  9. honkey

    honkey Zealot (544) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
    Premium Industry

    It would probably be dumb of me to speculate much, but in the case of a bad boil over, a lot of people (even well experienced brewers) have never seen how bad they can get. I remember an electrician working at my last brewery while I was brewing was back behind the kettle working on a broken outlet. Probably 8-10ft away from the kettle. I didn’t think anything of it. A few months later my assistant sent me a video of a boilover that occurred in the middle of the night... worst I’ve ever seen. He had forgotten to add kettle defoamer to prevent that. The entire area that the electrician had been working in was getting showered with boiling wort. I didn’t even think of that until just now when I read that article. Boil overs are dangerous and somewhat uncommon that they get that way. There is a high likelihood that if that is what happened that the brewers or the contractor had no clue that was a possibility... maybe even if you had told them they may have thought the notion is ridiculous.
  10. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Meyvn (1,422) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Premium Trader

    First thing I thought was that OSHA was going to investigate. You can bet a new set of rules/safety will be mandated following this. Will be curious to see if it changes the way equipment has to be laid out and other items such as signs/notices being posted to warn of possible hazards, etc. I bet breweries will be told they have to update their standards etc and training once this is done being looked at.
    @honkey can you tell us if OSHA already has guidelines to follow?
  11. mpmcguire11

    mpmcguire11 Aspirant (274) Sep 6, 2014 Rhode Island

    Free trillium brews for life?
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  12. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,681) Sep 24, 2007 Washington

    A thing that many forget, or maybe don't even realize, is that breweries, for all the romanticism we give them, are industrial spaces. Factories. We're all familiar with human error, and many of us are familiar mechanical error. When those two meet, unpleasant things can happen.

    The effected worker has my thoughts, and I hope every brewery takes a step back and looks at things with a fresh eye.

    To quote Sgt. Esterhaus from Hill Street Blues: Hey! Stay safe out there.
  13. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,756) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania


  14. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,680) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Airplanes can crash and kill people so don't go anywhere on a plane that is going to crash.

    With accidents like this, hindsight is always 20/20.
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  15. raynmoon

    raynmoon Crusader (782) Aug 13, 2011 Colorado

    I don't know about that, that seems a little extreme. But then again I don't know the exact nature of the incident. Like others have stated, these places know the dangers and if the workers don't know the dangers, then it is up to management to train employees, keep lock-out/tag-outs, have dangerous areas marked. But that doesn't always happen. A worker could make a rough mistake and get him/ herself hurt but I don't think that means that OSHA will suddenly make a ton of new rules for every place to follow. More likely just damages to settle between the company and the hurt party.
  16. BayAreaJoe

    BayAreaJoe Defender (633) Nov 23, 2017 California

    This is a mandatory self-report to OSHA incident, and they normally get involved. Plus the brewery's workers comp. rating is going to shoot up, along with their insurance premiums.
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  17. honkey

    honkey Zealot (544) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
    Premium Industry

    I know OSHA has guidelines in regards to working in enclosed spaces, and things like turning off power to the brewhouse if you enter the mashtun or kettle, but I’ve never worked in a brewery large enough for an OSHA audit, and as such I’m unaware of anything in regards to boil overs. I’d be surprised if that’s something they would have a guideline on as it is so unpredictable and a lot of the tendencies of boil overs are directly related to brewhouse design which is highly variable.
  18. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Meyvn (1,422) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Premium Trader

    Thank you for the feedback, I really appreciate it.
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  19. DrewLS

    DrewLS Initiate (125) Oct 7, 2012 Massachusetts

    Beer Advocate brass ought to consider how to use their platform for some good and help the guy out - GoFundMe or similar. Otherwise seems to me like the thread was started for...well, I don't actually know why since it's being talked about elsewhere.
  20. cg123

    cg123 Initiate (85) Feb 27, 2012 Ohio

    I'm the safety manager at a fairly large brewery and have had an OSHA inspection. There are no specific OSHA regulations in regards to brewing, but any applicable OSHA standard must be followed in a brewery just like any other manufacturing facility. There are regulations for Lockout, Confined Space Entry, HazCom, PPE, Forklifts, etc. Brewing is no different than any other type of manufacturing in the eyes of OSHA.

    I doubt any new regulations will come from this as all OSHA regulations must pass through a lot of scrutiny before they become law. Most take years to be developed and implemented.

    The Brewers Association has great safety resources for all breweries.. I am a member of the BA Safety Subcommittee and the BA takes safety extremely seriously

  21. mlm61

    mlm61 Initiate (91) Jun 16, 2016 Connecticut

  22. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,620) Aug 23, 1996 California

    This is a beer website with a forum, it's beer news, and this was posted in the beer news forum to bring attention to the story and encourage discussion.

    And you can help here:
  23. Oktoberfiesta

    Oktoberfiesta Aspirant (251) Nov 16, 2013 New Mexico

    ^that was raised rather quickly. Can someone explain gfm. I'm guessing he didn't have health insurance? Or is the money being used to help Pay regular bills since he'll he out of work awhile? With a workplace injury, one could usually use workmen's comp or go on short term disability, right? Is none of this offered in the brewing spectrum ?

    I know there's another thread about brewery workers and compensation etc. This sort of sheds a new light on the brewery scene IMHO. Trillium couldn't handle this internally? I know people want to help but gfms have never always made sense.
  24. harsley

    harsley Devotee (496) Jun 16, 2005 Massachusetts

    It's hard to believe how this could happen. The only boil overs I've seen sort of happen slowly, when left unsupervised. There seems to be some negligence here for someone to be working so closely to something that volatile and no one watching over things.
  25. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,680) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    There's no simple 25 words or less explanation that covers enough.

    Try looking here:
  26. cg123

    cg123 Initiate (85) Feb 27, 2012 Ohio

    A lot of who knows here. It mentions he is self-employed so there may not be health insurance. If he is a sole proprietor, then workers comp may not cover the situation. Every state is different regarding workers comp coverage. No way to know all these answers. Either way health insurance and WC coverage don't pay the mortgage or utility bills...
  27. Dan_K

    Dan_K Devotee (493) Nov 8, 2013 Colorado

    I can't speak to this particular incident but here's what I'd say. MOST people don't have disability insurance. Most health insurance doesn't cover time lost from work.

    With significant burns, they can be life threatening. He may need multiple skin grafts. It's EXTREMELY painful. He's going to miss a lot of work time and even family time. $25,000 probably won't go too far to address all his needs.

    So yeah, health insurance may cover most of his medical bills, the brewery may help with some of them- they might get sued anyway - but there's a lot of expenses associated with such a significant injury.

    GFM is a crowdfunding website, literally anyway can start a GFM page for just about any reason. It's up to you to decide if it's worth donating to.
  28. Brewday

    Brewday Initiate (121) Dec 25, 2015 New York

    I thought most of these kettles have lockable port windows. Is there another way the wort escapes.
  29. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Poo-Bah (1,729) Aug 29, 2012 Nebraska
    Premium Trader

    Even if he had full health insurance, full disability and pretty much any other precautionary financial measure you can take, his expenses will certainly outpace the payouts of those various types of insurance. Even most (all?) wage replacement insurances are highly unlikely to cover 100% of lost wages.
  30. Dan_K

    Dan_K Devotee (493) Nov 8, 2013 Colorado

    He was self-employed it sounds like. Not sure if he belonged to the Brotherhood of Electrical workers (union) or not. If not, he probably didn't have great benefits being self-employed.
  31. honkey

    honkey Zealot (544) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
    Premium Industry

    Of the two brewhouses I’ve had, one of them had a locking manway, but there was a small (half inch?) pipe that couldn’t be closed. If a boilover were to happen, it could shoot wort through that narrow diameter pipe. That was an inexpensive Chinese brewhouse.

    My current brewhouse does not have locking manways and it is a pretty nice Specific Mechanical brewhouse. Some boil overs happen even with locking manways when someone goes to open the manway or when adding hops and all the nucleation occurs, say the gasket is mis-seated and the brewer doesn’t get it back on in time to avoid the boil over. Most breweries turn off the kettle when doing hop additions to avoid that type of boil over.
  32. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,756) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    There has been a fair bit of discussion on the topic of boil overs. I think an extract from the BA magazine article is worthwhile here:

    “Boil-overs are one of the most dangerous—and frequent—incidents a brewery can expect. But their risk can be minimized with proper equipment and safe practices. Kettles must have ample headspace to accommodate a frothy boil, so brewers should be careful overloading their kettles and pushing their volume limits. His old company, SAAZ, designed and installed over-boil sensors that cut off the kettle heat if an overboil is imminent. “At the main production brewery at Bell’s, the kettle doors lock automatically when heat is applied so it is not possible to open the manway during the boil,” Mallett adds.”

    As you can read above there are practices & technology which can be implemented to mitigate boil overs. I wonder whether as result of the OSHA investigation we will learn whether the Trillium brew kettle had safety features installed like those detailed above.

  33. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Zealot (524) May 3, 2016 Illinois

    If this guy didn't have insurance Trillium is going to learn a valuable lesson when they have to cover it via lawsuit. Make sure your contractors have their own workers comp/disability/etc. or you'll be responsible.
  34. JohnnyChicago

    JohnnyChicago Crusader (795) Sep 3, 2010 Illinois

    Did I miss something that said it was a boilover? Burn hazards exist all over the brewery. It could have been an overfilling hot liquor tank or a burst steam pipe. Could have even been a burst auto-grainout pipe that dumped 180° spent grain on him. It could have also been an electric burn, considering his profession.

    Brewing is a fun, joyous profession. It is also extremely dangerous. Never let your guard down. Get insurance. If you have a family, get life insurance and/or AD&D. My dad worked electric for 35 years before he got his first serious electrocution. No one is immune.

    Praying for a quick recovery for this poor dude.
  35. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Zealot (524) May 3, 2016 Illinois

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  36. bluehende

    bluehende Poo-Bah (2,055) Dec 10, 2010 Delaware

    I do not want to be in a brewhouse that completely seals a boiling kettle.
    runbirddrinkbeer likes this.
  37. JohnnyChicago

    JohnnyChicago Crusader (795) Sep 3, 2010 Illinois

    Thanks, I just read that. Doesn’t necessarily mean boilover. I spoke with someone that said it was indeed an overfilled HLT, but I guess the details will come out eventually.

    Just an awful situation. Everyone who can, should send a couple of bucks his way. The internet can be a terrible place, but this is one of the ways it can be awesome.

    And to think...this guy was licensed, trained, and experienced working in one of the worlds most dangerous professions. ...and there are people who think it’s ok for people with no training or experience to work at breweries....for no money. Unbelievable.
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  38. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,756) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    It certainly is reported as being a boil over: "A source said the burns were caused by a large tank that boiled over.”

    Are you disputing what is being reported?

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  39. JohnnyChicago

    JohnnyChicago Crusader (795) Sep 3, 2010 Illinois

    I’m questioning if it was a boil kettle, which is what ‘boilover’ implies. A overfilling HLT is quite a different situation.
    WhiteHart likes this.
  40. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,680) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    If the article says "boiled over" and you say it wasn't necessairly a "boilover," what would be the difference???

    Edit: I see that you clarified. Thanks.

    Some of the rest of us don't know the "technical jargon."
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