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Amputation Risks are Serious featured image

Amputation Risks are Serious

Bending, punching, sheering and cutting are all amputation hazards in the workplace and failing to protect workers properly can lead to serious injuries and heavy federal fines.

Just recently, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, proposed to fine a Texas manufacturer nearly $250,000 for failing to protect workers from amputation risks. Unfortunately, this was not the first time the company had been fined.

Despite OSHA giving the company several opportunities to stop exposing its workers to amputation risks, little changed.

Since then, OSHA cited the company for three repeat violations related to energy control and failing to follow proper lockout/tagout procedures.

OSHA Area Director Casey Perkins said lockout/tag out and machine guarding violations are two of the most frequently cited hazards.

Amputations are some of the most severe and debilitating workplace injuries involving a wide array of activities and equipment. These injuries occur most often when workers operate equipment that is not properly guarded or is otherwise inadequately safeguarded.

Food slicers, milling machines, power press brakes, meat-cutting band saws and non-powered conveyors are among the equipment considered dangerous when it comes to

amputations. Forklifts, trash compactors and non-powered hand tools are also on the danger list.

In addition to the equipment itself, workers are also exposed to amputation hazards when setting up, adjusting and cleaning, or otherwise maintaining machines.

These components are considered hazardous:

  • Power-transmission equipment, including belts, flywheels, pulleys, chains, cams, gears, couplings and spindles.
  • Point of operation – The placement of the machine performing work.
  • Other moving parts, including those that move during the machine’s operation, such as rotating, reciprocating and transverse moving parts.

Hazardous Motions:

  • Reciprocating – a machine with back-and-forth motion that could potentially entrap a worker.
  • Rotating – A machine with a circular movement of flywheels, couplings, cams, spindles, or clutches, as well as rotating collars that may grab clothing or force a body part into the machinery.
  • Cutting – This action is generated during milling, sawing, boring, slitting and slicing.
  • Transversing – Workers can get caught in a pinch or shear point with a machine that has a straight, continuous line of movement.
  • Punching – This motion results when a machine moves a slide to blank metal or stamp.
  • Bending – This action occurs when applying power to a slide to form or draw metal or other materials.
  • Shearing – This is the movement of a powered knife or slide used for metal shearing or trimming.

How to Help Protect Workers

Educate yourself to recognize, manage and control any amputation hazards commonly found in the workplace.

These amputation injuries often occur when workers operate unguarded or otherwise inadequately protected machineries, such as powered and non-powered conveyors, power press brakes, power presses, roll-forming and roll-bending machines, meat grinders, food slicers, drill presses, meat-cutting band saws and milling machines. Also, grinders and slitters and shears should be included on the list of machinery that may cause amputations.

Employee training, work practices and other administrative controls can help prevent amputation hazards.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.