Scoping Advanced Manufacturing: Implications for Occupational Safety and Health

C.A. Pomeroy-Carter, C.L. Geraci, S.S. Tinkle
United States

Keywords: advanced manufacturing, occupational safety and health


The term advanced manufacturing has been used to capture recent technology-enabled changes in manufacturing, incorporating elements such as “the use and coordination of information, automation, computation, software, sensing, and networking” and the “use of cutting edge materials and emerging capabilities enabled by the physical and biological sciences.” Establishing occupational safety and health (OSH) practices may be particularly challenging in advanced manufacturing environments, where the use of novel, cutting-edge materials, technologies, and processes is common, and manufacturing methods are prone to fast and frequent changes. To assist advanced manufacturing stakeholders in identifying potential worker health and safety issues associated with advanced materials and advanced manufacturing technologies, we researched the scope of advanced manufacturing practices and materials and explored the implications of that scope for OSH. Using literature reviews and interviews with subject matter experts, we (1) constructed a definition of advanced manufacturing, (2) proposed an approach for recognizing advanced manufacturing, and (3) outlined an initial set of OSH implications for advanced manufacturing settings. We identify the use of state-of-the-art processes and/or materials as a critical aspect of the concept advanced manufacturing and argue that the use of the of the newest or most sophisticated ideas, science, and technology available at the time in a manufacturing process/approach and/or manufacturing material allows a manufacturing effort to be classified as advanced. We then propose a structured framework for the identification of advanced manufacturing, examine two examples of state-of-the-art trends in manufacturing (one process-related and one materials-related) and their associated OSH implications, and identify a set of overarching OSH considerations with relevance to the current state of advanced manufacturing.