OSHA Releases New Thermoforming Module

Thermoforming--a manufacturing process using a thermoplastic sheet or film that is fed into an oven, and then heated, formed, and trimmed--may be a dangerous operation if performed with the wrong tools or equipment, some of which can weigh thousands of pounds. Giving a rundown of the processes involved, with safety expressly in mind, OSHA yesterday released a new Thermoforming module for the Plastics Machinery section of the agency's Machine Guarding eTool. The module, available at http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/products/etools/machineguarding/plastics/thermoform_machine.html, reviews potential hazards associated with the various forms of thermoforming and was developed with input from the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. as part of the OSHA and SPI Alliance.

Going into detail about the various stages of the thermoforming process, the module notes that most injuries occur while employees are loading roll stock onto a roll-fed thermoformer machine and threading the plastic into it through end-feed rollers. The module also examines the forming, trimming, and stacking process and how employers and employees can avoid the hazards associated with the tasks.

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