Kickstart: Keeping everyone safe

One summer during college, I worked at a fruit packing plant. This was the 1980s, and in retrospect the safety precautions weren’t really that great. As in the training was “turn on the machine here.” The warning sticker on one piece of equipment was a very graphic depiction of fingers flying off.Did I survive uninjured? Yes. But looking back, can I see the very troublesome aspects of untrained teenagers running a seasonal factory? Also yes.Obviously the vast, vast, vast majority of plastics processors follow strict safety rules, but there are always exceptions. I’ve read too many reports on managers more interested in cutting corners and saving a few dollars than in keeping workers safe. There are also workers on shop floors who develop their own ways to ignore safety protocols that seem inconvenient. One CEO I know used to walk the shop floor and offer workers $20 if they could show him how they could “break” the operating rules. The workers weren’t punished, but the systems were fixed.This week Plastics News published its detailing both violations and examples of companies working to improve safety. Those state and federal safety rules may seem petty at times, but they are important. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports show at least 60 people died working in plastics processing plants in the past 10 years. That’s a statistic everyone should should pay attention to. Novolex is expanding its offerings in eco-friendly foodservice products, which may help it sustain business as more communities restrict the use of Plastic bags and takeout containers.It announced Aug. 9 it has acquired Scotland-based Vegware, a maker of bio-based cups, glasses and cutlery along with paper foodservice products. The line.The deal will allow Eco-Products more access to European markets while Vegware can access more sales in North America, the companies said.Vegware is currently sold in 70 countries.Another bio-based, compostable foodservice company also is highlighting its products by showing just how they disppear.The Phade-brand straw from WinCup is made of polyhydroxyalkanoate. In a news release, Stone Mountain, Ga.-based WinCup offers a showing a Phade straw gradually disintegrating in a controlled marine environment.  Plastics groups applauded the U.S. Senate’s bipartisan passage of its $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan Aug. 10, with the Plastics Industry Association noting provisions to beef up recycling and replace lead pipes. The American Chemistry Council also said it welcomed the Senate vote and said infrastructure spending will spur on more use of materials.But ACC also repeated concerns it has about a Superfund excise tax on 42 chemicals it said will hurt U.S. global competitiveness and have “far reaching, negative consequences” for the economy.In general, more spending on infrastructure projects should lead to more opportunities for plastics suppliers for items needed in municipal , and .Beyond those new sales, however, just imagine the benefits of a stronger transportation system for rail lines, roads and ports.”To meet [a] constant demand for the products of chemistry, chemical manufacturers transport their products by variety of modes including rail, road and water,” . “A strong transportation network is critical to keeping the business of chemistry and our economy moving.”Anyone who saw the massive disruptions from hurricanes such as Harvey and Laura should be able to appreciate improvements to fix roadways and railyards and keep freight moving at ports.  Do you have an opinion about this story? Do you have some thoughts you’d like to share with our readers? Plastics News would love to hear from you. Email your letter to Editor at Staying current is easy with Plastics News delivered straight to your inbox, free of charge. Subscribe to Plastics News Plastics News covers the business of the global plastics industry. We report news, gather data and deliver timely information that provides our readers with a competitive advantage.Customer Service:

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