We have seen and heard of too many preventable accidents in breweries. Optimism will always strive to be a safe brewery so please take safety seriously and alert Troy or Gay if you feel something is not safe or could be more safe.

Clothing for Brewing

Optimism follows the Brewer's Association's Best Management Practice For The Selection of Protective Clothing for Brewery Workers manual. See that document for details. What follows is a summary of that document.

  • Rips and/or tears are not permitted in any of your clothing. Rips and tears are an opportunity for your clothes to get caught on equipment posing a safety risk. Repair them if possible.
  • Loose-fitting clothes also create a safety hazard. Wear clothes that fit properly. Pants that are always falling down may look super-hip, but they're dangerous in a brewery.
  • A professional appearance is required. You are representing the brewery and our beer, so we don't want you to look unkempt, dirty or unprofessional.
  • Durable clothes are worth it. We love Carhartt clothes and, as of this writing, the Brewer's Association and Carhartt have combined to offer a discount program that gives discounts on Carhartt clothes to members of the Brewer's Association (which Optimism is). Talk to Troy or Gay about purchasing clothes with the discount.
  • Comfortable clothing encourages you to wear it more instead of clothing that is less appropriate for a brewery.
  • Sharp rivets can scratch equipment, causing the equipment to corrode. Do not wear clothes with sharp rivets or any metal that can scratch the equipment.
  • Optimism provides Optimism-branded work shirts at cost. Those will always be acceptable clothing as long as they are clean and in good condition.
  • Logos (other than Optimism logos) are discouraged within reason. Logos on clothes are often unavoidable and are acceptable, for example, "Eddie Bauer", "Nike", etc. Even wearing another brewery's shirt, hat, etc. is acceptable. However, if you like another brewery so much that you're constantly wearing logos for other breweries, perhaps you should work at another brewery.
  • Many of these guidelines require you to use your best judgment. We are not lawyers and are not interested in turning these guidelines into "rules" that must be policed. So while you are free to make your own decisions, please don't be surprised if someone disagrees with you. Respect their opinion.

The following are the recommendations from the BA's Best Practices manual that we believe are important to point out to you. See the manual for a complete list of recommendations. Some of these recommendations we believe are so good hat we make them requirements, as explicitly noted with "[REQUIREMENT]".


  • Light and breathable shirts keep you cooler and more comfortable
  • Water and chemical repellent shirts will keep you dry
  • Pockets that can't be closed make it tempting to put things in that fall out when you bend over. You don't want your phone to fall into the boil kettle.


  • Pants with large loops can get caught on things in the brewery. Avoid them.
  • Do not tuck your pants into boots. Hot liquids or chemicals may damage your feet/legs faster than you can pull your foot out of your boot. [REQUIREMENT]



Hats are acceptable as long as they are clean. It is recommended to turn the bill to the back to avoid blinding you to dangers above you.


Gloves are required for handling chemicals in the brewery. Appropriate gloves (nitrile, neoprene or butyl rubber) that conform to ANSI/ISEA 105-2011 will be provided to all employees that need to handle chemicals. Tell Troy or Gay if the supply is low or you cannot find them.

Gloves are recommended for non-chemical handling uses, such as when lifting things or using tools such as knives to open bags of grain.

  • Use gloves that fit your hands properly.
  • Roll back the gauntlet to create a cuff to prevent liquids from running onto your unprotected arm
  • Rinse the gloves of any chemicals after use
  • Inspect gloves before you use them to make sure they are in good condition

Eye protection

Eye protection is required when handling or transferring chemicals or hot liquids. Suitable eye protection will be provided to all employees that require it that meets these conditions:

  • Impact-resistant plastic
  • Side shields or wrap-around design
  • Possibly lightly tinted
  • Meets ANSI Z87.1-2010 standards

If you require prescription eyeglasses, they should be worn under safety eye protection.

Rinse glasses after use, if necessary. Glasses should be handled properly to avoid scratches. Scratches are a common reason to avoid wearing eye protection. Contact Troy or Gay if glasses are too scratched or otherwise too damaged to be used.

Hearing protection

The brewery was designed to be as quiet as possible at all times. Therefore, hearing protection is not expected to be required. However, suitable reusable hearing protection will be provided for those that desire it.

TODO: Use a decibel meter to measure decibels around the brewery

It is our goal to never exceed 90dBA for brewery operations, which is considered acceptable by OSHA for up to 8 hours.

Respiratory protection

The brewery was designed to protect employees from requiring respiratory protection. The mill room, when the mill is on and crushing grain, is the only time and location where it may be required. However, employees should not have to enter the mill room during operation because the grain enters the mill via the Chain-Vey conveyor and should be crushed and deposited into the grist case without human intervention. A camera is mounted in the mill room to allow employees to view the mill room to verify proper operation without entering the room during milling.

In the event that a problem with the mill requires a person to enter the room during milling, such as a repair or testing of the mill, respiratory protection is provided in the room. Hopefully, it will never be used.

If there is a location other than the mill room that requires respiratory protection, exit the area and contact Troy or Gay immediately.

Confined Spaces

Confined spaces are dangerous. There are hot liquids, gases such as CO2 that are not breathable by humans, chemicals and powerful motors in a brewery. Being trapped in a confined space creates an opportunity for a person to be harmed by these things.

With the exception of the cold rooms, do not ever go into a confined space. There is no reason for any Optimism staff to fully enter any confined spaces. If a confined space requires entry for repairs, a qualified 3rd-party will be contracted independently.

You will need to put your arms and your head into confined spaces. For example, to remove the lauter tun grates, to take a sample of the wort in the boil kettle, to inspect the interior for cleanliness, damage, etc. Following the SOPs for each of these tasks, as described below, should be followed to safely put body parts in confined spaces.

See the Brewer's Association Best Management Practice For The Management of Confined Spaces in Breweries for more information on confined spaces.

Cold Rooms

We have two cold rooms in the brewery. One behind the cellar for storing kegs, hops, etc. and one behind the serving bar for storing serving kegs and growlers. The cold rooms are confined spaces and it will often be required to enter those rooms to change kegs, get ingredients, tools, etc. CO2 is dangerous because it can asphyxiate you, it is odorless making it difficult to detect, and it is heavier than air, so it sits at the floor, making it impossible to breathe if you fall down and can't get up.

CO2 should not be present in these rooms at all because the CO2 should not escape the kegs and there should not be leaks in any of the lines carrying CO2 to the kegs. However, accidents are not planned, so always use caution and consistently follow safe practices.

CO2 alarms installed in the room should alert you to levels below a dangerous level so pay attention to them. However, all devices eventually fail, so it is important to visually inspect them to verify that they are functioning properly. There are redundant detectors in both cold rooms, so if one fails or is not functioning properly, the others should continue to work. If you notice that one or more of them do not appear to be functioning, contact Troy immediately.

Additionally, the cold room is cold, so you do not want to get locked in for an extended period of time. The door is to remain open whenever a person is inside. If you are closing the door, verify that nobody is inside first.

Entrance Procedure

  1. Open the door and locate the CO2 alarms, verify that they are operational. If they are not functioning properly, do not enter the room and contact Troy or Gay immediately.
  2. Locate the emergency respirator within arm's reach of the door. If you cannot find it, contact Troy immedately.
  3. If all the alarms are indicating the room is safe and the emergency respirator is available, enter the room, leaving the door open.
  4. Upon leaving, verify that the respirator is in its place and close the door.

Emergency Procedure

If the person entering the room succumbs to CO2, do not enter the room to pull them out because you will also succumb. Instead, put the provided respirator on before entering. Only then is it safe to enter the room to pull the person out.


Heavy things falling on people is a potential risk for injury in a brewery. We have tried to design the brewery to reduce the lifting of heavy objects as much as possible. Optimism's success will not be based on the physical strength of its employees, so do not feel that you are required to lift heavy objects. Humans invent tools for reasons such as this and we prefer to find safer and easier methods to lift heavy objects. Contact Troy or Gay with your ideas.

Manually lifting

Do not lift anything that is too heavy for you. It is easy to injure yourself by lifting too much weight, and possibly others, if you accidentally drop what you're carrying. You must be the judge of how much weight you can lift, but 50 pounds (22kg) is a suggested limit by OSHA.

Full kegs far exceed that limit, so never lift a full keg. Use the provided keg lifts in the cold rooms to lift them on or off shelves. To transport a keg, use a provided hand truck.

If you have to lift a keg in other locations where a lift is not available, see OSHA's guidelines for lifting kegs and talk with Troy and/or Gay about eliminating this lifting situation. In summary:

  • Use 2 people
  • "Walk" the kegs onto the toe plate of the hand truck
  • Don't lift empty kegs above your shoulders

TODO: design and build keg-lifting systems in cold rooms

TODO: write instructions for using the lifts

TODO: buy hand trucks (rounded ones for kegs)

Our Schaefer Plus kegs are less than 28 pounds (13kg) when empty, so they are safer to lift. However, they can still do damage to your feet when dropped so be careful with them.

Bags of grain are at the limit of reasonable weights, so use your discretion when lifting them. It is recommended that rather than lift bags of grain, you push and pull them. For example, to use a bag of grain, it should be relatively easy to stand it up, open it and let it fall into the Chain-Vey hopper and you can lift the bottom to empty the bag. This avoids lifting the full weight of the grain. Use gravity as well, but that does not mean you should let bags of grain drop from heights that would cause them to break open. Be careful, not lazy.

TODO: describe how to dump bags into the hopper without lifting once the Chain-Vey is installed and you've done it

Always use a forklift or pallet jack to move multiple bags of grain.

Gloves are recommended when lifting and opening several bags of grain.

Walkie Stacker Lifting

TODO: learn how to use the forklift and then write good instructions here

The forklift is provided to lift heavy things, such as pallets of grain and kegs. It is not a toy, however. Use it properly and safely.

Assume that the objects you are lifting will fall so always make sure that no people are below or near the forklift when it is lifting. If someone is close by, either ask them to move or wait until they are a safe distance away.

Pallet Jack Lifting

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

MSDS documents for all chemicals used in the brewery are listed here: