Occupational exposure characterization of vacuum pump maintenance technicians in a semiconductor manufacturing environment Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/d504rn65v

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  • In the semiconductor industry, numerous potential occupational exposures exist as a result of the diversity of chemical and physical hazards unique to integrated circuit manufacturing. The hazards associated with maintenance tasks are challenging because the sporadic nature of the tasks make exposure monitoring difficult. In particular, vacuum pump maintenance is hazardous due to the close contact with chemical waste by-products. The purpose of this study was to characterize the chemical and physical occupational exposures associated with vacuum pump maintenance (VPM) in a semiconductor manufacturing environment. The study population consisted of 9 VPM technicians at a semiconductor manufacturing plant in Oregon. VPM tasks were observed and prioritized according to potential risk of exposure. For each task studied, an exposure monitoring strategy was developed to quantify both chemical and noise exposures. Personal and area air samples of potential waste gases were conducted during maintenance tasks. All air samples were below established governmental standards. Detectable levels were found for three tasks: 0.040 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m³) of hydrochloric acid, 0.014 mg/m³ of chlorine, and 0.08 mg/m³ of fluoride containing gases during tasks associated with the metal etch tool, polynitride etch tool, and tungsten deposition tool, respectively. Several bulk samples of waste residues collected during the tasks where corrosive having low pH levels. Representative noise sampling was conducted during a 12 hour shift to characterize noise exposures. Noise samples revealed that 43% of the samples were above the 80 dBA action limit thus requiring the VPM technicians to be involved in a hearing conservation program. Field observations revealed that there were many chemical hazards associated with waste gases and residues, therefore it is likely that occupational exposures occur even though they were not detected at significant levels in this study. In addition, there were several ergonomic risk factors associated with dismantling the pump during the maintenance activities. Specific improvements in personal protective equipment, general work practices, ergonomics, and engineering controls will help to reduce the potential for occupational exposures unique to VPM. Results from this study indicate the need to conduct in depth hazard evaluations of high risk populations such as the VPM technicians.
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