It has been just a year since I last discussed the lagging safety record of plastics processors.

It has been just a year since I last discussed the lagging safety record of plastics processors. The latest OSHA figures show that plastics processing still has a 20% higher incidence of nonfatal injuries and illnesses than all U.S. manufacturing. Even though the plastics figures have been improving at a slightly faster rate than the manufacturing average, plastics still have plenty of catching up to do.

There are plenty of new resources available to help plastics processors make their workplaces safer. The Society of the Plastics Industry has formed alliances with U.S. OSHA and with state occupational safety agencies in Michigan, Indiana, and Kentucky. These partnerships have produced joint SPI/OSHA machine-safety training courses on injection molding, extrusion, and thermoforming; a new web page, "OSHA Assistance for the Plastics Industry," at www.osha.gov/SLTC/plastics/index.html; and an online training "eTool" to educate processors on machine
guarding at www.osha.gov/SLTC/ machine guarding_etool/index.html. SPI also promotes safety through development of new machine safety standards by its Machinery Div. And SPI has an informative page on the relatively new subject of ergonomics for workers. At www.socplas.org/public/worksafe/faqs.htm, you can find links to state programs on ergonomics and information at OSHA and NIOSH. SPI also has online bulletins on specific issues like workplace hazards from mineral oil mist and Legionnaires disease (which can be spread by water-cooling systems). With such help available, processors who ignore safety hazards are running out of excuses. 

 

NON-FATAL OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES & ILLNESSES
(Lost Workday Cases Per 100 Full-Time Workers)
Year
1996
1998
2000
2001
2002
2003a
All Manufacturing
4.9
4.7
4.5
4.1
4.1
3.5
All Plastics Products
6.1
5.7
5.4
4.6
5.2
4.2
Unsupported Film & Sheet
4.6
4.5
4.3
3.4
5.2
3.7b
Unsupported Profile Shapes
4.2
5.8
4.3
4.6
3.6
3.2
Laminated Plate & Sheet
6.1
5.9
3.9
3.6
3.9
3.0b
Plastics Pipe
5.5
5.2
9.6
3.9
3.7
3.9b
Plastics Bottles
5.0
4.0
4.7
2.6
3.5
4.2
Plastics Foam Products
6.8
6.1
5.5
5.9
4.7
--
Custom Compounding
3.9
7.4
4.2
4.6
5.2
5.8
Plastics Plumbing Fixtures
6.9
3.8
6.9
5.1
5.0
--
Other Plastics Products
6.6
5.9
5.5
4.9
5.6
4.5b
aChange in industry classification system. bNot strictly comparable to earlier figures.