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Preventing Accidental Amputations

What you need to know to prevent an accidental amputation from happening

Nearly 5,000 American workers suffered job-related amputations in 2014 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Partial or total amputations of fingers are the most common job-related amputations, but workers also lose hands, feet, arms, and legs at a disturbing rate.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) first issued a National Emphasis Program (NEP) on amputations in 2006. In late 2015, the agency updated its amputations NEP, and state plan states like California that have their own job safety and health programs will be required to follow suit.

An amputation is the “traumatic loss of limb or other external body part,” according to OSHA. Completely or partially severed body parts are considered “amputated.” At work, amputations can result from a variety of causes, including crushing incidents, falls, and motor vehicle accidents.

By far the most common cause of amputations in the workplace, however, is machinery hazards. These hazards-employee exposures to unguarded or inadequately guarded machinery and equipment, together with associated hazardous energy exposures during servicing and maintenance activities-are the focus of OSHA’s updated NEP.

Follow machine guarding and lockout/tagout (LOTO) precautions to use machines safely and prevent amputations. Machine guarding, for example, prevents amputations by putting a barrier between your body and the hazardous areas of machinery.

It does this by:

  • Preventing operation if a hand or body part is placed in the danger area;
  • Restraining or withdrawing the hands from the danger area during operation;
  • Requiring use of both hands on machine controls or the use of one hand if the control is mounted a safe distance from the danger area; and
  • Providing a barrier that is synchronized with the operation cycle to prevent entry to the danger area.

LOTO prevents amputations by ensuring that machinery cannot move or cycle while you are in a danger zone. LOTO programs include written procedures that cover, for each piece of equipment:

  • Its energy sources
  • Steps to shut it down and secure it
  • How to verify lockout
  • How to apply locks and tags
  • How to restart it

All About Amputations – Quiz

Test what you know

Select “True” or “False” for the following statements:

  1. Nearly 10,000 American workers suffered job-related amputations in 2014 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. True / False
  2. Partial or total amputations of legs are the most common job-related amputations, but workers also lose hands, feet, arms, and fingers at a disturbing rate. True / False
  3. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration first issued a National Emphasis Program on amputations in 2006. True / False
  4. The most common cause of amputations in the workplace is falls. True / False
  5. Machine guarding and lockout/tagout are two safety practices that best help workers to use machines safely and prevent amputations. True / False

ANSWERS

  1. False. Nearly 5,000 American workers suffered job-related amputations in 2014 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  2. False. Partial or total amputations of fingers are the most common job-related amputations, but workers also lose hands, feet, arms, and legs at a disturbing rate.
  3. True.
  4. False. The most common cause of amputations in the workplace is machinery hazards.
  5. True.

 

 

 

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