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Composites

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Overview

The composites industry in the United States includes three manufacturing areas: polymers, metals, and ceramics. This Safety and Health Topics section deals with that segment of the industry known as polymer matrix composites.

A composite is a material composed of a reinforcing fiber and a resin matrix. Composites are classified according to their matrix phase (the material which surrounds the fiber). Composite products range from skateboards to components of the space shuttle. Materials within the composites industry are often called "advanced" if they combine the properties of high strength and high stiffness, low weight, corrosion resistance, and in some cases special electrical properties. Several of the manufacturing processes and potential hazards are common to both polymer matrix composites and advanced polymer matrix composites.

OSHA Standards

There are currently no substance specific OSHA health standards for composites. However, employees' exposure to chemicals used in the manufacture of composites or generated as byproducts of the manufacturing processes, are covered under 29 CFR 1910, Subpart Z.

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Hazards and Solutions

This section identifies some of the major industry segments involved in the manufacturing of concrete and concrete products, and in construction work with concrete.

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Workers' Rights

Workers have the right to:

  • Working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
  • Receive information and training (in a language and vocabulary the worker understands) about workplace hazards, methods to prevent them, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace.
  • Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
  • File a complaint asking OSHA to inspect their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA's rules. OSHA will keep all identities confidential.
  • Exercise their rights under the law without retaliation, including reporting an injury or raising health and safety concerns with their employer or OSHA. If a worker has been retaliated against for using their rights, they must file a complaint with OSHA as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days.

For additional information, see OSHA's Workers page.

How to Contact OSHA

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov or call OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), TTY 1-877-889-5627.

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