Exploding beer keg kills Redhook Ale Brewery worker

2:30 PM, Apr 25, 2012   |    comments
Ben Harris (Facebook Photo)
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PORTSMOUTH, NH (CBS) - An exploding beer keg killed a brewery worker at the Redhook Ale Brewery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire Tuesday.

Officials say Ben Harris had been filling kegs with air to clean them out when one of the kegs blew up.

"Something failed where it basically blew apart under the pressure and with such force that parts of the keg pushed into his chest and into his head," Portsmouth Asst. Fire Chief Steven Achilles told WBZ-TV.

He died at the hospital.

Redhook released the following statement on its Facebook page:

"We are saddened by the tragic event that occurred at the Portsmouth brewery this morning resulting in the death of one of our employees. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family. 

We are doing everything in our power to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragic accident, and have closed down all non-essential operations at the Portsmouth brewery, including the pub, while the investigation continues.

We believe it would not be appropriate to comment further until the investigation is concluded. Our sympathy is with his family and everyone touched by the tragedy."

Steve Souza, head brewer at nearby Milly's, a microbrewery in Manchester, which uses a similar cleaning process where air pressure is used to empty and clean kegs, says a tragic incident like this is almost unheard of.

"I really don't know how it could happen because it's rare. I want to know what happened exactly so it doesn't happen here," he said.

OSHA has opened an investigation into the death.

"The investigation will determine which workplace standards were in place and if the worker complied with those standards," OSHA said in a statement.

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