OSHA recently launched a new screen printing module as part of its interactive Web-basedErgonomics in the Printing Industry eTool. The module and eTool are products of the agency's Alliance with the Graphic Arts Coalition.

Screen printing allows a heavier amount of ink to be set down via a process involving an industrial woven fabric or "screen" manually stretched to a fixed tension and attached to a frame. Employees push ink through the screen using a sweeping motion with a squeegee. This process can be used on a variety of materials of varying sizes, including paper, plastics, pressure sensitive adhesive material (such as bumper stickers), metal, glass, ceramic, leather and wood. The new tool provides information about four stages of the screen printing process: pre-press, press, post press and materials handling.

The Ergonomics in the Printing Industry eTool focuses on providing employees involved in printing processes with information on preventing musculoskeletal disorders that may result from workplace activities, including lifting heavy items, lifting too often, or working in awkward body postures. It also includes modules on Lithography and Flexography printing styles.

The module identifies potential ergonomic hazards and possible solutions to reduce injuries within the screen printing process. Users can access specific printing tasks, such as stretching, attaching and cleaning mesh screens, for a description of each task and the potential hazards identified for that job. The user can navigate within each task to become familiar with the hazards and to learn about possible solutions.