Accidents never happen in isolation, it is a series of near-misses and mistakes that get compounded. While fermentation is a 5000 year old ancient trade, one should not confuse simplicity with a lack of skill. Today we will be talking of some common mistakes that home brewers do which can cause bodily harm.
- Glass shards: Be careful in moving around your glass carboys, beer bottles. If they shatter, it is a mess to clean. Worse if they shattered when filled. The beverage will carry off the broken glass pieces all over the work area and below the furniture which makes it a mess to clean. That is the reason why be extra cautious when you have kids or pets at home. Use stainless steel or other non-fragile material when possible.
- Boiling water: Mashing would require 10-20 liters of boiling water which has to be stirred, boiled and transferred. Please be careful around flames and doing the heavy lifting of hot liquids. There is no manhood or bravado in using improper gear to hold and transfer your hot containers. Asking your friends and family to assist during the transfer is also a good idea. More people can prevent oversight and lead to a better grip on things.
- Using harsh cleaning agents: If you are using strong acids, alkaline lyes or other corrosive industrial cleaning agents, please exercise caution. Not only gloves are required to prevent chemical burns, but proper eye gear and masks can prevent vapor and splash damages.
- Shoes, gloves and safety glasses. I have seen home brewers wear chappals, shorts and an apron during brewing. What they fail to appreciate is that wearing shoes can prevent most foot injuries. Covering your arms and legs can prevent most burns, gloves are essential when dealing with harsh chemicals and safety glasses when dealing with hot liquids or chemicals is always a good idea.
- Spills: All equipment has to be sanitized before and after every use. So we are dealing with large quantities of water during brewing. One thing most brewers forget is to clean the spills immediately. This can create accident zones due to a slippery floor.
- Bottle bombs (separate article).
- Infected beer: separate topic on how to prevent contamination of your ferments.
- Loose connections: One of the reasons why we sell wort chillers instead of plate chillers is that amateurs often attach pumps to hot wort without fastening it properly leading to accidents. Avoid touching hot brew kettles directly. A simple rag or vessel grip is all you need.
- Short Circuits: Keep water and electricity away.
- Malt Grain dust: Milling and moving craft malts can lead to grain dust in the air that can cause nasal irritation.
- Boil Overs: Mashing can take up to 2 hours and sometimes we leave it unattended leading to boil over of wort. This is often the first near misses in the series of mishaps that cascade to the accident.
Home brewing is a simple and rewarding hobby for those who want to make unique food experiences from scratch. It does not need a heavy investment in expensive equipment, but having a bit of common sense can make it really safe.