A full 50 to 58.6 litre beer keg usually weighs between 61.2 to 72.6 kg (135 to 160 lbs). Kegs are primarily found in:
- liquor and beer stores
- restaurants, bars and pubs
- delivery trucks
Workers are at a high risk of injury when manually handling beer kegs. They can:
- develop musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), particularly in the back and shoulders, when lifting, lowering, or carrying a keg
- be injured, if struck by kegs due to loss of control when handling
The high risk of injury when manually lifting, lowering or carrying kegs occurs when a worker moves the keg on their own or with another worker.
Using two workers to manually handle kegs may present hazards due to:
- high forces and weights
- the use of awkward postures
- limited hand holds
- the risk of one worker supporting most of the weight if the other worker slips or loses their grip on the keg
Design and layout of workplaces
The design and layout of workplaces where kegs are found can increase the risk of developing an MSD. For example, beer fridge areas and keg storage rooms may have low ceilings or limited space.
This can result in the double stacking of kegs or cause workers to adopt poor postures while handling the kegs.
There may be additional challenges when loading or unloading delivery vehicles and transferring full kegs up or down stairs or to raised storage surfaces.
The following outlines the legal requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) regarding manually handling kegs.
Provide information, instruction and supervision
Under clause 25(2)(a), employers must provide workers with information, instruction and supervision to protect their health and safety.
Examples of information and instruction include:
- techniques, tools or processes implemented by the employer to safely handle kegs
- safe work procedures developed for handling kegs
- communicating hazards
Under clause 25(2)(d), employers must make sure that workers or a person in authority over a worker (for example, supervisor or manager) are acquainted with the hazards in their work. This includes MSD hazards when manually handling kegs.
Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances
Under clause 25(2)(h), employers must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker, including from MSD hazards while manually handling kegs.
See the section on how to prevent injuries for examples of precautions.
Regulations that apply
Some sector-specific OHSA regulations may also apply to manually handling kegs.
Under section 45 of Regulation 851 – Industrial Establishments, employers must make sure that materials, articles or things are:
- lifted, carried or moved in a way and with such precautions and safeguards that does not endanger the safety of a worker [clause 45(a)]
- transported, placed or stored so they can be removed or withdrawn without endangering the safety of any worker [subclause 45(b)(ii)]
- removed from a storage area, pile or rack in a manner that will not endanger the safety of a worker [clause 45(c)]
How to prevent injuries
To reduce the risk of injury to workers handling kegs, here are recommended practices that an employer can take:
- Provide mechanical aids when kegs are to be moved. Specialized equipment such as keg dollies and mechanical devices with lifting mechanisms designed to raise and lower beer kegs should be available.
- If mechanical aids are not available, develop safe work practices in which kegs can be rolled, pushed, pulled, or slid in order to reduce physical demands.
- Manage stock levels and design or modify keg storage areas so workers can avoid lifting, lowering, and carrying beer kegs.
- Develop and implement safe work procedures on the techniques, tools and processes for safely handling kegs.