Automotive semiconductors represent a $24 billion industry, with a growth rate of 8% annually. Electrified drivetrains will soon fuel the largest semiconductor industry expansion to date, using power metal oxide semiconductor field-effect transistors and the like to carry power from the motor while supporting crystal-level tuning. Innovative fabrication doesn’t always produce positive effects, though. Computer chip manufacturing requires workers to handle hundreds of different chemicals, many of which are reproductive toxins, cancer-causing chemicals, and mutagens.
25 years ago, a chip maker’s production line began to suffer dire effects from exposure. A 1986 study discovered double the miscarriage rate along a semiconductor assembly line. The resulting taskforce found that this wasn’t an isolated problem. It had changed the lives of thousands.
New Materials, New Risks
The average vehicle has $350 worth of semiconductor content, and 80% of it now requires new materials like scandium. A sturdy occupational health policy is thus critical. Shin Etsu has one of the most robust safety policies in the industry. To manage specialist hazards, advanced risk assessment strategies including HAZOP and FMEA are in use. HAZOP examines design intent along two flow diagrams to find out if existing protection is enough. FMEA is engineer-designed to spot failures in risk mitigation.
Shin Etsu’s safety goals and targets are constantly reviewed, and managers are properly trained to uphold safety standards. Staff are educated, and an open door policy is maintained for those who want to discuss safety concerns. When health issues arise, the company investigates them thoroughly, creating suitable strategies to mitigate risks.
In an industry as complex as semiconductor manufacturing, static safety practices aren’t enough. They need to be constantly reassessed and improved upon—a process that Shin Etsu actively maintains. An industry that’s rising to thrilling new heights cannot afford losses, especially those relating to its workers.