SA: gin and whisky distilleries targeted in safety audit program

SafeWork SA recently announced that it will conduct a safety audit of gin and whisky distilleries across the state to reduce risks to workers and the public.

A dramatic rise in locally produced spirits has seen the number of distilleries in South Australia grow tenfold over the past decade, with more than 120 distillers now making gin, whiskey, vodka and rum in SA.

Distilleries produce and store highly flammable liquids, including ethanol, and create risks associated with explosive atmospheres, confined spaces, pressure vessels, electrical safety, chemicals, cylinder storage and pallet racking.

In 2021, an explosion at a Tasmanian distillery caused critical injuries to a worker and $2 million in damage to the facility.

Beginning this month, SafeWork SA inspectors will inspect distilleries across the state to ensure compliance with WHS laws and dangerous substances regulations.”

Throughout the six-month campaign, compliance activities will focus on:

  • Explosive atmospheres
  • Pressure vessel use, testing and registration of plant
  • Electrical safety
  • Chemical and cylinder storage
  • Pallet racking of stored goods
  • Slips, trips and falls facing workers

“The dramatic rise in the number of distilleries in SA in recent years has prompted the six-month campaign,” said SafeWork SA executive director, Glenn Farrell.

“With any burgeoning industry, there is the possibility that work health and safety risks have not been identified or adequately addressed by the business operators.

“Distilleries are not only employing many more workers but are also opening their doors to the public as a tourism and hospitality experience.

“Distilleries are inherently hazardous places as they store and use highly flammable liquids and present electrical safety risks as well as slip, trip and fall hazards.

“This audit will provide us with a good understanding of the level of compliance with workplace safety laws in the distilleries sector and will enable our education and advisory services to work with businesses where necessary.”