Amputations in the Workplace
When you hear the word “amputation,” many people believe that it may never happen to them or their employees. Amputations are widespread and involve a variety of activities and equipment. According to the most recent Bureau Labor Statistics data, manufacturing employers reported that 2,000 workers suffered amputations in 2013. The rate of amputations in the manufacturing sector was more than twice as much as that in the entire private industry. Every one of these amputations could have been prevented.
Since OSHA updated the reporting procedures on January 1, 2015, all amputations must be reported to OSHA within 24 hours. In August 2015, OSHA updated their National Emphasis Program on Amputations to help ensure that employers identify and eliminate serious workplace hazards and provide safe workplaces for all workers. This essentially means that OSHA will be focusing on conducting inspections of employers with machinery and equipment that cause (or are capable of causing) amputations and workplaces where amputations have occurred. OSHA believes that failure to properly apply machine guarding techniques and failure to adequately control associated energy hazards during servicing and/or maintenance activities are the primary causes of amputations.
OSHA will be investigating any machinery and equipment associated with amputations with particular attention to employee exposure to nip points, pinch points, shear points, cutting actions, and other points of operation.
Update: OSHA has updated their National Emphasis Program on Amputations again (set to expire March 2020), which will be in place for 5 more years starting December 10, 2019.
OSHA may even consider and evaluate the employee exposures during:
- Cleaning of the machine, oiling or greasing of the machine or machine parts;
- Scheduled/unscheduled maintenance;
- Following lockout/tagout procedures.
Not everyone will be inspected, but it is important to ensure that all of your machinery is guarded properly, your OSHA 300 logs are up to date, you are keeping up your periodic inspections for lockout/tagout, and your written programs & training documentation are in place.