One of the most terrifying injuries in the workplace involves amputations of limbs or fingers in moving machinery. As part of its national emphasis program on amputations, OSHA has issued a revised guide to assist employers in reducing various hazards.
Severe and disabling injuries may result from the use and maintenance of machines such as saws, presses, conveyors, shaping machines, powered and non-powered handtools, forklifts, doors and trash compactors. Amputations may also occur during materials handling activities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 8,450 non-fatal amputations involving days away from work across the United States in 2005. About 44 percent of those types of injuries occurred in the manufacturing sector.
The revised OSHA guide identifies eight mechanical motions and eight hazardous actions that present possible amputation hazards. The guide also sets out steps employers can take to reduce the risks.
Hazardous mechanical motions include rotating, reciprocating (back and forth or up and down), transversing (motion in a straight line), cutting action, punching action (as in a stamping process), shearing action, bending action and inrunning nip points.
Hazardous activities include machine set-up, threading and preparation, machine inspection, normal production operations, clearing jams, cleaning of machines, machine adjustments, lubricating machine parts and scheduled or unscheduled maintenance.
OSHA says it’s vital to identify various hazards associated with the use and care of machines. A hazard analysis focuses on the relationship between the employee, the task, the tools and the environment. The results from such an analysis may be used as a means of designing machine safeguarding and an overall energy control (lockout/tagout) program.
The benefits of doing so include reduced amputation injuries, lower workers’ compensation costs, better morale and increased productivity, according to OSHA.