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 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.