Many bottlers were injured by exploding Hutchinson bottles while working at bottling tables, so their safety was a major concern.  Hutchinsons were typically filled at a pressure of 65 pounds per square inch, so any crack or hidden flaw in a bottle presented a weak spot.  Most bottlers wore goggles or a wire face mask, a leather or rubber apron, and fingerless leather gloves which afforded protection while still allowing a firm grip on the bottles. 

Charles Sulz addressed the topic of safety in his 1888 book, A Treatise on Beverages or The Complete Practical Bottler, with the following comments and illustrations:

For the safety of the operator, to protect him against injury from the glass fragments of bursting bottles, safety screens are attached to the bottling machines as seen in the illustrations.  Instead of them, or even besides, wire bottle-screens are used, especially where beverages under high pressure in pint or quart bottles are to be filled, and their employment affords greater safety or protection.  These bottle screens are made of steel wire, well tinned, and are strong and durable.  Other appliances for protection and safety for face and eye are wire masks and wire eye protectors; for hands ‘bottling gloves’ are used.  When a moderate and standard pressure is maintained for ordinary bottling the safety screens attached to the bottling machines afford all the protection that is necessary; for bottling highly charged beverages in large-sized bottles, it is well to care for additional protection by employing the other appliances.

Bottling Pressure. – The usual pressure to bottle at should not exceed 60 to 80 lbs. for saccharine beverages.  Plain soda waters are frequently bottled at from 80 to 100 lbs., siphons at from 120 to 140 lbs. of pressure.  Carbonated beverages going to hot climates should not be charged higher than 30 to 45 lbs.; but the liquid must be thoroughly agitated to impregnate it with gas.  No greater mistake is made by bottlers than when they attempt to charge their beverages with excessive high pressure…

Complaints of bursting of bottles are frequent.  This is due to overcharged or badly annealed or cracked bottles, and they burst nearly always in the process of bottling, as it is at that moment that the greatest pressure is inflicted upon them.  The exploding of bottles afterwards is partly due to the same cause, but also to changes in temperature and rough treatment while on transportation and other similar causes.  Accidents not infrequently happen, and such of a most painful character are known, and the carbonator can guard against them by properly charging and bottling his beverages.

Testing Carbonated Beverages…A requisite for bottling is a test gauge.  This is an instrument for ascertaining the pressure of gas in the bottles filled with carbonated waters…Fig. 258 is a device for being attached to the…pressure gauge and used when testing the pressure in patent bottles.  The under part of the tongs is shaped like a fork: this is placed under the ring or neck of the bottle, when, by compressing the handle, the plug on upper part will be brought on to the top of the stopper in the bottle, and so force it away from its seat the pressure can now be noted, and by reversing the bottle the tongs can be taken off, the stopper will take its seat, and the bottle be again closed.

Early industry trade publications contained numerous references to mishaps involving bottlers.  Here’s an example from the December 15, 1897 issue of The Western Bottler:

S. F. Ellingwood demands that the Omaha Bottling Company pay him $5,000 for an eye he lost while in the employ of the defendant.  Ellingwood alleges that he was employed by the defendant, laboring as a soda water bottle filler.  While so engaged, he alleges, on September 6th last, a bottle exploded and that fragments of the glass flew into his eye, destroying the sight of the organ.  He further alleges that the machinery in the factory was defective, as was the bottle, and that consequently the defendant is responsible for the accident.

W. H. Hutchinson & Son supplied numerous safety-related products specifically designed to provide additional protection for bottlers.  Here are examples of several items advertised in their 1908 Bottler's Book:

Most of the bottling industry supply houses offered face masks during the Hutchinson era.  The following illustration from W. H. Hutchinson & Son’s 1917 Catalog and Price List is identical to the mask available from the Bishop & Babcock Company’s 1909 Bottler’s Machinery - Bottler’s Supply catalog.  The earlier version also offered head protectors for an additional 25¢:

These Hutchinson bottling safety-related helpful hints are from The Bottler’s Helper, a 1907 publication by the Blumenthal Brothers:


By Wm. Stier, Jr., Hastings, Neb.

A screen for Hutchinson’s bottling table can easily be contrived in a short time, and serves very well to keep glass from bursting bottles striking the operator in the face.  Take a piece of heavy telegraph wire, 34 inches long, and form a crescent 7 inches long and 3 inches across.  Twist the loose ends twice, then twist around bottling head just under cross head.  Take a wire similar to a Ginger Ale loop, and weave a screen on the frame of crescent, and your protector is ready for use.



By Mrs. M. Kaufman, Richmond Bottling Co., Philadelphia, Pa.

To prevent cuts in bottling take an ordinary pair of woolen gloves and cover outside with five or six sheets or cotton.  A piece of cloth or fine leather is then placed over this cotton.  This makes a good bottling glove, being far superior to the rubber glove, which allows water to run up the arms.  This glove absorbs the water.



By Davison & Welch, Minonk, Ill.

To keep from getting wet when bottling with the Hutchinson bench, take two inches rubber belting and tack all around bench, excepting about two inches on one corner.  Leave this open.  Let belt project out about ¾ inch above table.  Then have galvanized iron splasher made, 6 inches high with roll in at the top projecting in and two feet long, and take on bench at right hand of syrup gauge, then have pipe connected to nipple under bottle stand and also to the corner of bench where water runs off, and run water either into gutter or catch in pail, and your floor will be perfectly dry and you can bottle with your Sunday clothes on.  The floor in our factory is four inches higher on one side than the other, with gutter on low side, which gives us a good chance to scrub and drain off, and our floor is always dry.