Carbon Dioxide Safety for Breweries

Breweries and CO2 Monitoring

Importance of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in Brewing Industries

Breweries throughout the world pose unique challenges when it comes to Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in the workplace. While carbon dioxide is a necessary product in the brewing process and a by product to the gas, it can be a potential deathtrap for those working in the brewing industry.

With beer sales reaching $116.0 billion in revenue in 2020, brewing production is at an all-time high and monitoring for potential CO2 exposure is becoming just as essential for brewery workers.

Confined spaces are in one word, dangerous.

Duties such as cleaning fermentation tanks, maintaining yeast disposal, and working in walk-in coolers are normal, daily, brewery activities - yet all are potentially hazardous spaces for employees in the breweries. This is due to the fact that these areas can confine the gas in a space where it cannot escape. Hence the phrase "confined space". Carbon dioxide lines run throughout the brewery to get the gas to the correct locations for use and fermenters create the gas when yeast converts sugar to alcohol. CO2 lines also are run into the walk-in draft coolers, as well. More importantly, all of these can create hazardous conditions.

 Additionally, as the beer finalizes its fermentation and reaches the desired gravity, the valves are then closed and carbon dioxide builds up within the tank. Additional carbon dioxide can then be supplemented to the beer dependent upon the desired result to ensure consistency. 

So what's the catch?

Just because you can’t see, smell, or taste this inert gas does not mean that it is not present and potentially deadly.

How to Stay Safe from Carbon Dioxide Hazards

Being aware of the potential hazards of carbon dioxide gas in specific areas is the first step. Having devices to properly monitor and measure the CO2 is the most important opportunity to save lives.

Because CO2 can quickly create a hazardous environment beyond displacing oxygen in the room, elevated CO2 can lead to severe negative health effects such as fatigue, dizziness, nausea, asphyxiation and even fatality if not properly monitored. Brewers tend to be at a risk of exposure to more than 4% CO2 within minutes and if carbon dioxide monitors are not installed. 4% CO2 is the Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH) as established by National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Brewery CO2 Hazard Points

The primary areas of concern when dealing with CO2 in breweries are the fermentation areas, brite tanks, and keg coolers. The massive amounts of gas housed in the vessels and enclosed in the keg coolers - can easily overcome an average adult in seconds. When you combine massive amounts of CO2 with poor ventilation and confined spaces you have basically created your own CO2 hazard.

To provide some additional perspective, a deadly event in Mexico (“Seven workers dead in confined space accident”) where seven workers died resulted from CO2 exposure. These employees were unaware of deadly levels of CO2 while cleaning a fermentation tank. According to the article, the employees at a Grupo Modelo Brewery in Mexico City were found conducting routine cleaning inside a tank when they were overcome by the gas. If proper CO2 monitors were installed, these employees might still be alive today.

Few employees realize that there is a device that is designed that can help monitor and measure their level of carbon dioxide exposure in all areas especially confined spaces. When CO2 rises a worker could start to become fatigued, feel dizzy, or even faint and fall to the floor. A high CO2 concentration could easily replace oxygen in the air; if less oxygen is accessible to breathe  brain processes slow down and an individual can pass out suddenly.

Fixed Wall Mount CO2 Monitor

Because of tragedies surrounding carbon dioxide (CO2) exposure, many local municipalities or fire codes now require carbon dioxide safety devices.

Facilities with draft coolers already understand the potential hazards found in the walk-in cooler because it traps CO2 and does not allow it to escape except when the cooler door is opened. By complying with the standards, CO2 safety devices called fixed/wall-mounted monitors can warn employees of CO2 leaks prior to them entering confined spaces, like the keg-cooler.

CO2Meter Remote CO2 Storage Safety 3 Alarm

Our Fixed or Wall-Mounted monitors with remote displays are designed to:

  • Protect employees, staff, and establishments
  • Ensure piece of mind with audible and visual alarm indicators
  • Meets all Local Fire Codes
  • Meets NFPA, IFC, and NBIC Requirements
  • Meets OSHA and NIOSH TWA Standards

Now, imagine an employee is asked to go into the room where the CO2 is stored. Now suppose the fitting on the CO2 cylinder has been leaking all night. When that employee walks in that room they could instantly be knocked unconscious by the CO2. However, with a Remote CO2 Storage Safety 3 Alarm, the employee would see and hear the alarm before they opened the door.

co2 storage safety alarm

In addition to having both audible and visual alarms this monitor also has 3 built-in relays which can trigger the ventilation or be wired directly to a fire alarm panel to make an instantaneous call to the local fire department.

What's Next?

In today’s world brewery owners and professionals must be leaders and take appropriate preventative steps by installing and assuring complete safety for their workers, providing awareness and avoiding any accidents that commonly arise.

Besides the dangers, think of the rise in insurance rates, or loss of insurance due to an incident. Or the angst you'd feel if an employee was injured or experienced fatality. Breweries throughout the world now can avoid the tragedies shown too often in the media with CO2 safety monitoring solutions.

For more information on carbon dioxide safety devices, or to ensure you are selecting the right monitor for your industry or application - speak to an expert today. Sales@CO2Meter.com or (877) 678 - 4259


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