This responds to your article “Amputations prompt targeting of risky businesses” (Jan. 7, Page 4). This new Occupational Safety and Health Administration program, which focuses on plastics, should be of concern to processors for a number of reasons.
It cannot be denied that amputations occur in many manufacturing sectors, including plastics processing, and greater efforts are needed to eliminate them from the workplace. It is important to note, however, that the amputation rate for the plastics processing sector targeted by the recent OSHA directive (SIC 3089) essentially was at or below the overall average amputation rate for all manufacturing for the years evaluated. Contrary to your headline, that is not a formula for targeting those workplaces where the hazard is greatest.
In response to the OSHA initiative, SPI is working to protect both the overall industry and individual workers. SPI has been engaged in dialogues with OSHA's administrator and other officials to develop cooperative efforts designed to reduce workplace amputation injuries by improving compliance with OSHA's machine guarding and lockout/tag-out requirements. These discussions also have addressed policy issues surrounding OSHA's use of data to identify risk and to target limited enforcement resources. In addition, SPI is working to ensure that the plastics industry, in the future, is included in OSHA's deliberations before initiatives such as this are launched.
These activities build on SPI's decades of emphasis on safety — creating standards on one side of the equation and providing training and publications to address the human factor on the other. It also builds on our long-term relationships with the state and federal OSHAs, seeking effective solutions to worker safety challenges.
We believe this is an important issue for the industry, and we appreciate your addressing it in Plastics News and your allowing us to make this clarification.
SPI is based in Washington, D.C.