The Safest Places to Work in Guelph
Breweries And Flour Mills: Safe Places To Work
Compared to other occupations, employment in a flour mill or brewery was safe. In Guelph, the least dangerous jobs were to be found in mills, such as Goldie’s and Allan’s, and breweries such as Sleeman’s and Holliday’s. This was due to the nature of the work. Few sharp tools were used. Breweries were designed to be light and airy. The air was cleaner because of the need to keep the product pure. New facilities, such as Sleeman’s, were light and sanitary. This meant the air was clean and relatively free of floating particles that could clog the lungs. The temperature within these businesses tended to be consistent, without the extremes that produced increased instances of flus, colds and other respiratory illnesses.
Working in a Brewery
The accidents that occurred at breweries were usually minor, cuts and bruises from falling casks, and pinched fingers. John Flaherty was struck by a beer cask in January 1897 and William Hewer by a pipe. Both worked for Holliday’s and were slightly injured. In November 1882, Peter Mulchinook was working at Sleeman’s with another employee cleaning a cask when it exploded. Both men received bruises and cuts. Peter Mulchinook was struck on the forehead and on the chest. The other man was hit on his leg by staves from the blasted cask. In a more serious accident at Sleeman’s, Joseph Mesner and Al Schwinn were shellacking the inside of a large cask when it exploded, burning their bodies. Instances of bottles exploding, resulting in cuts to fingers and other parts of the body, also occurred. In some instances, casks had toppled upon workers. Working with large casks could result, as well, in injury through strained muscles. At Holliday’s Brewery in January 1896, Arthur Williams fell while loading vats and bruised his side.
Deaths at breweries were few and frequently the result of inadequate medical attention. On April 2, 1904, Frank Prime cut his finger on a bottle. He got blood poisoning and died.
Working in a Flour Mill
Deaths in flour mills were also rare. Yet, there were problems, and Goldie’s, as noted above, was not free of accidents. In February 1884, the miller at Goldie’s, Sebastian Schwalm, ruptured a blood vessel when lifting a flour barrel. In a later incident, a wheel belt caught and cut off his little finger.
A more serious accident happened to a young boy, Bert Petrie in 1895. He had returned to work after a short illness. Whether he suffered from a fainting spell, was distracted or was simply inattentive for a moment, will be forever unknown. He was seized by the gears of the bolters, his left arm sucked inevitably into the cogwheels of the machine. His screams attracted the head miller, Mr. Schwalm, who rushed in and freed him. In one way, it was too late. The young man’s right arm was badly mangled. Flesh was also torn from the right side of his body. The arm was later amputated. Bert Petrie, the son of the late R. W. Petrie was 18 years old.