back to OSHA Safety and Health Topics

Contents
Page last reviewed: 08/04/2009
Highlights
  • Machine Guarding. OSHA eTool. Focuses on recognizing and controlling common amputation hazards associated with the operation and use of certain types of machines.
    • Plastics Machinery. Discusses guidelines and safety measures for horizontal injection molding machines. A virtual tour of a horizontal injection molding machine is also available.
Plastics Industry - Copyright WARNING: Not all materials on this Web site were created by the federal government. Some content  including both images and text  may be the copyrighted property of others and used by the DOL under a license. Such content generally is accompanied by a copyright notice. It is your responsibility to obtain any necessary permission from the owner's of such material prior to making use of it. You may contact the DOL for details on specific content, but we cannot guarantee the copyright status of such items. Please consult the U.S. Copyright Office at the Library of Congress  http://www.copyright.gov  to search for copyrighted materials.
Plastics Industry

Employing over 1.1 million workers in the United States, the plastics industry represents a substantial portion of the American workforce. Various safety and health concerns exist throughout the plastics industry, ranging from raw material manufacturing to plastics processing.

OSHA's mission is to prevent work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Since the agency was created in 1971, occupational deaths have been cut by 62% and injuries have declined by 42%. One way OSHA accomplishes this mission is by the development and enforcement of standards that address hazards in the workplace.

Standards

This section highlights OSHA standards, directives (instructions for compliance officers), state standards, and national consensus standards related to the plastics industry.

OSHA

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 industry or may have different enforcement policies. State standards that differ from Federal standards are listed in the State section below.

Frequently Cited Standards

OSHA maintains a listing of the most frequently cited standards for specified 6-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. Please refer to OSHA's Frequently Cited OSHA Standards page for additional information. For All Other Plastics Product Manufacturing use NAICS code 326199 in the NAICS search box.

Directives

  • National Emphasis Program on Amputations. CPL 03-00-003, (2006, October 27). Describes policies and procedures for implementing a National Emphasis Program (NEP) to identify and reduce the workplace machinery and equipment hazards which are causing or are likely to cause amputations. This directive applies to general industry workplaces where saws, shears, slicers, press brakes, and power presses of all types are present.

  • Inspection Procedures for the Hazard Communication Standard. CPL 02-02-038 [CPL 2-2.38D], (1998, March 20). Provides clarifications and guidance to comply with this performance-oriented standard. The appendices include sample hazard communication programs, hazard evaluation procedures, and clarifications and interpretations of the standards.

  • Search all available directives.

State

Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.

  • Part 62, Plastic Molding. Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth (DL&EG), General Industry Safety Standards, (2000, January 24).

National Consensus

Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc. (SPI)

  • Injection
    • B151.1-2007, Horizontal injection molding machines - safety requirements for manufacture, care and use. Applies to horizontal injection molding machines that are used in the rubber and plastics industries.
    • B151.21-2003, Injection blow molding machinery - safety requirements for manufacture, care and use. Applies to all IBMMs (including Injection Stretch Blow) that process plastic materials and produce and/or deliver a preform which is then blown into the shape of a mold held together by a vertically or horizontally acting clamp(s).
    • B151.27-2003, Safety requirements for the integration, care and use of robots used with horizontal & vertical injection molding machines.
    • B151.29-2002, Safety requirements for the manufacture, care and use of vertical clamp injection molding machines. Identifies and addresses known hazards to personnel working on or with the specified machinery.

  • Extrusion
    • B151.15-2003, Extrusion blow molding machines - safety requirements for the manufacture care and use. Minimizes hazards to personnel associated with machine activity by establishing requirements for the manufacture, care, and use of these machines.
    • B151.5-2000, Plastic film and sheet winding machinery - manufacture, care, and use. Identifies and addresses known hazards to personnel working on or adjacent to the machinery.
    • B151.2-1999, Film casting machines - construction, care, and use (revision and redesignation of ANSI B151.2-1982 (R1988)). Identifies and addresses known hazards to personnel working on or adjacent to the machinery.
    • B151.4-1999, Blown film take-off and auxiliary equipment - construction, care, and use (revision and redesignation of ANSI B151.4-1982 (R1988)). Identifies and addresses known hazards to personnel working on or adjacent to the machinery.
    • B151.20-1999, American national standard for plastic sheet production machinery - manufacture, care and use. Identifies and addresses known hazards to personnel working on or with the machinery.

  • Lockout/Tagout
    • Z244.1-2003 (R2008), Control of hazardous energy - lockout/tagout and alternative methods. Cited in OSHA interpretations and private sector materials, the Z244.1 Standard is used as a resource for addressing control of hazardous energy and lockout/tagout. The scope and purpose of the standard is to establish requirements for the control of hazardous energy associated with machines, equipment, or processes that could cause injury to personnel. The purpose of this standard is to establish requirements and performance objectives for procedures, techniques, designs and methods that protect personnel where injury can occur as a result of the unexpected release of hazardous energy. Unexpected release of hazardous energy can include any unintended motion, energization, start-up or release of stored energy, deliberate or otherwise, from the perspective of the person(s) at risk.
      • Z244 Subcommittee Information. American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

Hazards and Solutions

Many workers are unaware of the potential hazards in their work environments, making them more vulnerable to injury. The following references aid in recognizing and controlling workplace hazards that may be present in the plastics industry.

General

Electrical

Ergonomics

  • A Primer Based on Workplace Evaluations of Musculoskeletal Disorders. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-117, (1997, March). Links to NIOSH investigations where certain work settings were found to contribute to work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). Lists disorders and recommendations for avoiding injury. The following are relevant to the plastics industry:
    • 3070: Manufacturing (Plastics, metal products)
      • Bennett Industries, Peotone, Illinois [172 KB PDF, 20 pages]. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Health Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance (HETA) Report No. HETA 89–146–2049, (1990, June).
    • 3089: Manufacturing (Plastic products)
      • Scott Molders, Inc., Kent, Ohio [178 KB PDF, 20 pages]. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Health Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance (HETA) Report No. HETA 91-0003-2232, (1992, July).

  • Ergonomics FAQs for Plastics Processors. Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI). Answers commonly asked questions regarding ergonomics for plastic processors.

  • For additional information, see OSHA's Ergonomics Safety and Health Topics Page.

Hazard Communication

Isocyanates

Legionnaires' Disease

Lockout/Tagout

Machine Guarding

Noise

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Powered Industrial Trucks

Respiratory Protection

Walking/Working Surfaces

  • Slips and Falls Caused by Plastic Pellets and Beads
    • Slips and falls are one of the major causes of plastics industry accidents. They occur frequently and happen when you least expect it. Walking surfaces that have spilled resin pellets or beads provide minimal traction due to the slippery nature of the pellets or beads, and subject workers to slips and falls. The occurrence of slips and falls and the extent of injuries from them can be minimized through proper safety and good housekeeping practices. It is important to identify and correct unsafe conditions to prevent slips and falls from spilled resin pellets or beads. An all around program that will help you is called "Operation Clean Sweep". This free program shows you how to ensure that your worksite is properly set up to prevent pellet loss and to assist you in cleaning up your facility.

  • For additional information, see OSHA's Walking/Working Surfaces Safety and Health Topics Page.

Additional Information

Other Resources

  • SPI - the plastics industry trade association. SPI represents one of the largest manufacturing industries in the United States. SPI members represent the entire plastics industry supply chain, including processors, machinery and equipment manufacturers, and raw materials suppliers.

Accessibility Assistance: Contact the OSHA Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300 for assistance accessing PDF materials.

*These files are provided for downloading.