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OSHA Reports Rise in Workplace Amputations

Casey Woodruff

employeeWhen we hear about a workplace injury, many of us are likely to assume one of the “fatal four” according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): falls, being by struck by an object, electrocutions, and being caught-in or between an object or piece of equipment. However, according to a recent news release from OSHA, it looks as though workplace amputations are on the rise in terms of reported injuries. These are especially serious injuries that can result in permanent disability and disfigurement. In considering the recent string of workplace amputations—including fingers, toes, hands, and legs—OSHA has decided to emphasize amputation prevention methods on the job.

While many of these injuries took place outside Illinois, the recent emphasis on workplace safety and the risks of amputation are significant to employees in Champaign, Aurora, Naperville, and other Chicago-area worksites.

Learning More About Amputation Workplace Injuries

According to a fact sheet developed by OSHA, “amputations are some of the most serious and debilitating workplace injuries,” and they “often happen when workers must operate mechanical machinery without the proper guards or training.” Some examples of machines that commonly result in accidents and amputations at worksites include but are not limited to:

  •      Mechanical power presses;
  •      Power press brakes;
  •      Powered and non-powered conveyors;
  •      Printing presses;
  •      Roll-forming and roll-bending machines;
  •      Food slicers;
  •      Meat grinders;
  •      Meat-cutting band saws;
  •      Drill presses;
  •      Milling machines;
  •      Shears;
  •      Grinders; and
  •      Slitters.

As you can see, the types of machinery on which amputations tend to occur are varied, and the devices on the list above are spread across numerous industries – from construction to food service to paper printing. And this list is not a complete one. As OSHA explains, injuries involving amputation can also happen when workers are using machinery, tools, or vehicles that are not commonly associated with these types of injuries. For example, forklifts, doors, and trash compactors can result in an amputation if proper safeguards are not in place.

Prevention Tools for Amputations at Work

Can workers take steps to help prevent amputations on the job? In short, yes, but the burden also falls on employers. OSHA emphasizes that employers “should be able to recognize, identify, manage, and control amputation hazards commonly found in the workplace.” It is important to focus on work practices that prevent amputation risks, and to use extensive employee trainings to ensure that workers also know the hazards they face.

As OSHA points out, the burden of safeguarding machines falls upon employers, and sometimes that means purchasing a new machine altogether. Employers can also purchase safeguards or construct them, but either way, safeguards must exist for dangerous machinery and tools. According to John Hermanson, one of OSHA’s regional administrators, “no worker should ever have to experience this type of debilitating injury.” He underscored that OSHA’s aim, when it holds prevention workshops, is “to help employers identify and eliminate hazards that could lead to serious harm.”

If you or a loved one recently suffered serious injuries in a workplace accident, you should not hesitate to discuss your case with a dedicated Chicago workplace injury attorney. If your employer’s negligence caused your injuries, you deserve to be compensated. Contact Woodruff Johnson & Evans today to discuss your options.

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