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Redhook Brewery's parent Craft Beer Alliance Inc. has reached a settlement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after they were cited for numerous violations of workplace safety standards following the death of a Portsmouth brewery worker in April. (GRETYL MACALASTER PHOTO)

Red Hook Brewery's parent firm settles with OSHA after probe of fatal accident

PORTSMOUTH - Redhook Brewery's parent company has reached an informal settlement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after an investigation into the death of a brewery worker in April.

Craft Brew Alliance Inc. has agreed to address numerous violations found by OSHA during a months-long investigation that followed the death of Ben Harris, 26, of Newington.

Harris was using a compressed air line to purge liquid from the interior of a plastic keg when the keg exploded and fatally struck him.

An investigation by OSHA's Concord area office determined that the explosion resulted from excess air pressure introduced into the keg from the keg cleanout line. The line lacked an air regulator that would have limited its air pressure to less than 60 pounds per square inch, which is the maximum air pressure limit recommended by keg manufacturers.

In this case, OSHA also found that other employees who used the cleanout line were exposed to the same hazard while cleaning out steel kegs.

OSHA's subsequent inspection of Redhook's Portsmouth brewery identified numerous additional hazards unrelated to the explosion. In total, Craft Brew Alliance was cited with 15 serious violations of workplace safety standards.

As part of the informal settlement with OSHA on Nov. 13, Craft Brew Alliance has agreed to pay fines of $44,500 by Dec. 1, which is a modification of the original penalties totaling $63,500. Citations related to Harris's death were not changed and fines related to those citations were not reduced.

gmacalaster@newstote.com

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