Plastic products are changing multiple facets of people’s lives, including safety in the workplace. From enhanced construction products and athletic equipment to safer auto parts and tabletops in hospitals, plastics are making a substantive change in workplace safety. Innovations in these arenas and others are expanding the applications of plastics and their contribution to sustainability.
According to The Plastic Industry Trade Association, the construction industry is the second largest consumer of plastic products in the U.S. Many components used in the construction industry, including the tools used to complete projects, are made from advanced plastics that enhance workplace safety. For example, there are numerous pipes, fittings and plastic-based sealants that enhance the structural integrity of buildings, making them safer work environments. These same parts are also lighter in weight, generally speaking, compared to strictly metal materials. This makes them less dangerous or difficult for construction workers to handle- enhancing their workplace safety.
In industrial buildings large and small, there are typically government requirements for fire safety systems. These systems generally include water piping and spraying devices that activate when specific environmental criteria are met, or when a manual alarm is triggered. If the piping in these systems is made from plastic, it can enhance the overall effectiveness of the fire protection system. As noted by Fire Protection Engineering, plastic pipes are less likely to melt during a fire and are not good conductors of heat. Ultimately, plastic pipes can help slow the spread of fire, enhancing workplace safety.
Professional and amateur athletes are able to compete in a safer manner because of plastic enhancements to sports equipment. According to the American Chemistry Council, plastics are improving helmets, protective padding and goggles, making them stronger and easier to wear. Professional athletes can protect their physical prowess for longer, given the power of plastics to shield joints and vital body structures.
If your workplace is a semi-truck or everyday automobile, then plastics are making your job safer every time you get behind the wheel. Changes in the construction of vehicles, especially in the crumble zone, are making accidents more survivable. According to Plastics Make it Possible, innovations in plastics are leading to new types of body panels, seat belts, shatter resistant headlamps and lightweight vehicle components, all of which improve vehicle safety.
There are a variety of plastics in development that have anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties, making them ideal for enhancing workplace safety in hospitals. Tabletops, counter surfaces and other commonly touched or handled areas of hospitals are safer, when these types of plastics are used. Disposable, single use syringes and needles have also improved the risk of contagion. This protects nurses, doctors and hospital techs from a variety of potential illnesses. It also helps protect patients and their families.
In a busy manufacturing facility, sharp edges and high production volumes can lead to all sorts of accidents and injuries. That’s why plastics are so effective in these types of environments, because they can be used to cover metallic edges and protect workers. Whether it's plastic grips that can ergonomically enhance workstations, or table edges covered by plastic guards, plastics are an integral part of safety in a facility with machine tools, lathes and heavy-duty production equipment.
Plastic products are changing the face of workplace safety and are making people’s lives and jobs easier. Whether it’s plastic in hospitals that neutralize bacteria and contaminants or cars with more effective plastic components, plastic materials are making the workplace safer.
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