Semiconductor Manufacturing: An Introduction to Occupational Health Issues of Processes and Hazards

Wald, Peter
(American College of Physicians, Philadelphia, PA; American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Arlington Heights, IL; American College of Medical Toxicology, Harrisburg, PA)

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Semiconductor manufacturing has been thought of as a “clean” or “light” industry. However, behind the attractive landscaping and architecture of these plants lie chemically intensive processes and sophisticated machinery. The potential for illness and injury from these processes is complex and subtle. Semiconductor manufacturing is unique in the relatively large number and variety of hazards and the relatively high toxicity of compounds routinely used in the processing. These modern manufacturing processes are complex, rapidly changing, and difficult for those outside the industry to understand. As this industry moves into new geographic areas, occupational health professionals will be asked to evaluate medical or workplace conditions associated with unfamiliar and complex production processes. This presentation provides an overview of semiconductor manufacturing processes. Each step of device fabrication is detailed with its attendant chemical and physical hazards. Broader concepts of industrial control technology, clean room ventilation, and ergonomics are explained. The hazards are tabulated to allow rapid assessment of the risks inherent to each processing step. References have been chosen to guide the reader to additional information.

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