The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) has amended a requirement for the state's injection molding companies to update safety procedures on their presses during mold changes.
The Plastics Industry Association had pushed for the change to a Michigan standard that called for a mechanical device on horizontal injection presses made after Aug. 28, 1973.
The Washington-based trade group had proposed changes that it says reflect current technologies used by plastics processors and avoid "redundant redundancy."
MIOSHA agreed to the change in the General Industry Safety and Health Standard Part 62 on March 26.
The biggest news comes for processors that use horizontal injection molding machines, according to Marie Gargas, technical director of regulatory affairs for the plastics association.
"The mechanical device — also called a 'drop bar' or 'jam bar' — is no longer required by MIOSHA under Part 62 but remains an option," Gargas said in an email.
MIOSHA also added a definition for "safety gate" that the association had requested, as well as language that clarifies the intent of the requirement for interlocking the safety gate on both horizontal and vertical presses.
"This opens new doors for manufacturers of horizontal injection molding machines and their Michigan customers when it comes to accepted methods for protecting workers by ensuring platens do not close when the machine gate is open," Gargas said.
The mechanical device remains a requirement for vertical injection molding machines under Part 62 and industry standard ANSI/PLASTICS B151.1-2017, Gargas added.
"We're very satisfied with that outcome, as this has been a high priority for our members for quite some time," she said.
The association had formally requested the Part 62 amendment in July 2017 based on a risk assessment and the requirements in ANSI/PLASTICS B151.1-2017. The association also pointed out that Brazil was considering removing the requirement from its NR-12 standard.
Michigan is home to about 450 molding plants, each with an average of 30 injection presses. The input of association members was critical to the group's success in the state, Gargas said.
"It wouldn't have happened without their expertise and contributions throughout the process and reflects their continued [commitment] to worker safety, the safety standards to which machinery is built and the safe operation, maintenance and servicing of such machinery," Gargas said. "I also remain grateful to the risk assessment experts, counsel, standards experts and other stakeholders we engaged along the way."
Michigan officials and the plastics industry have worked together before. Gargas pointed to compliance enforcement challenges with federal OSHA's standard for the control of hazardous energy back in 2000.
That provided a foundation for this most recent effort, Gargas said.
Now the trade group is looking at addressing the control of hazardous energy at the federal level as OSHA plans an update of that standard.
Gargas is encouraging plastics companies to stay involved.
"Member engagement was critical to the success in Michigan, has been helpful in early conversations with OSHA and will remain so in the upcoming rule-making process," she said.