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Page last reviewed: 02/27/2007
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Composites

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.

There are currently no substance specific 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.

OSHA Standards

This section highlights some of the general OSHA standards related to composites.

Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)

Construction Industry (29 CFR 1926)

Hazards and Solutions

Many workers are unaware of the potential hazards in their work environment, which makes them more vulnerable to injury. The following references aid in recognizing and evaluating composites hazards in the workplace.

Hazard Recognition

  • OSHA Technical Manual (OTM). OSHA Directive TED 01-00-015 [TED 1-0.15A], (1999, January 20).
    • Polymer Matrix Materials: Advanced Composites. Provides a description of the manufacturing processes and potential hazards of the advanced polymer matrix composites. Includes an overview of the industry, information about the manufacturing process, and health hazards.
      • Glossary. Provides an extensive list of definitions relative to composites.
  • For additional information on general safety and health concerns, see OSHA's Safety and Health Topics Pages on:

Possible Solutions