The hospitality industry should protect employees against workplace accidents involving beer keg delivery systems, WorkCover NSW has warned.
With the festive season around the corner, hotels and clubs are gearing up for a busy Christmas, but beer keg explosions remain a risk across the state.
WorkCover NSW noted an incident in Newcastle in October that left a 23-year-old man with severe injuries after a gas-pressurised keg ruptured.
The bar staff member lost his arm after tapping the keg to release air. Witnesses said the explosion rocked the premises, with some thinking a bomb had detonated, the ABC reported.
Despite emergency services rushing the man to hospital quickly, doctors had to amputate the arm soon after.
Beer keg dangers
Jodie Deakes, acting general manager of the agency's Work Health and Safety Division, said hectic schedules at Christmas and new year can cause businesses to take shortcuts and ignore manufacturers' warnings.
"People using beer keg delivery systems need to be appropriately trained, instructed and, in particular, supervised in operating procedures, to prevent over-pressurising," she explained.
"Beer keg delivery systems involving the use of carbon dioxide or beer gas cylinders must have a regulator fitted to the cylinder, to limit the supplied pressure."
A pressure relief valve must also be fitted between the key and the cylinder. This ensures pressure does not build up should the regulator stop working.
According to Ms Deakes, the valve is typically built into the key tap or the regulator assembly – sometimes both.
Ensuring safety in the workplace
Beer keg explosions could lead to total and permanent disabilities, preventing employees from ever returning to their jobs due to the severity of injuries.
"Safety is everyone's responsibility in the workplace – it's a team effort. Everyone needs to be involved in workplace safety measures," Ms Deakes said.
"At the end of the day, we want everyone to work safely so they can return home safely."
Employers were not the only people warned about the dangers of beer kegs; private individuals were told to be careful when hiring portable keg systems.
Specifically, WorkCover NSW advised buyers to read the manufacturer's instructions carefully to reduce the possibility of suffering an injury.
The organisation is also working closely with the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) in the development of safety guidelines for working near cellar trapdoors and cleaning beer lines. These instructions can be viewed at the AHA website.