Exploring Workplace Injury and Amputation in 2019

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Workplace accidents resulting in amputation are still very much a reality in the U.S. today.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has concluded that most workplace amputations occur because of unguarded machinery, lack of adequate training and appropriate practices and procedures to safeguard employees.

Along with advocacy for current amputees, Amputee Coalition also helps support amputation awareness and prevention for the workplace. We firmly believe that with proper education and oversight, most amputations can be prevented.

The recent numbers on workplace injury leading to amputation, however, demonstrate the need for more to be done.

Workplace Injury Amputation Statistics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor 2017 Survey of Occupational Injuries & Illnesses, non-fatal workplace injuries, in general, have been decreasing year over year:

The 2017 data also shows that amputation related to workplace injury affected approximately 0.5 out of every 10,000 U.S. workers (or 1 in every 20,000 workers):

However, this data takes into account the entire working population of the United States. According to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics from 2016, amputation incidence rates for industrial accidents are much higher:

  • Manufacturing (2.1 amputations per every 10,000 workers)
  • Construction (1.4 amputations for every 10,000 workers)
  • Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting (1.4 amputations for every 10,000 workers)

While overall workplace injuries have been trending downwards, incidences of amputation have risen in manufacturing, accounting for 57% of all U.S. worker amputations. This national safety issue has prompted OSHA to run its National Emphasis Program on Amputation.

OSHA National Emphasis Program on Amputations

In 2006 OSHA kicked off their National Emphasis Program on amputations, which was last updated in 2015. Its purpose is to help identify and reduce workplace machinery and equipment hazards that are likely to cause amputation.

The program has a 2-pronged approach:

1. Outreach

OSHA supports employers in high-risk industries and employee unions to provide safety workshops. This may include meetings, training, education, speeches or other activities to encourage employees to take an active part in identifying and reporting concerns about workplace safety related to possible amputation.

The program also encourages the formation of consultation projects in order for employees to develop their own strategic approaches on how to reduce the risk of amputation.

2. Inspection

OSHA conducts inspections of workplaces in which hazardous machinery is present. The Certified Safety and Health Official (CSHO) confirms the presence of hazardous machinery, and assesses for nip points, pinch points, shear points, cutting actions, and other points of operation.

They assess employee exposure to those hazards during any of the following actions:

  • Regular operation of the machine
  • Setup/threading/preparation for regular operation of the machine
  • Clearing jams or upset conditions
  • Making running adjustments while the machine is operating
  • Cleaning of the machine
  • Oiling or greasing of the machine or machine pans
  • Scheduled/unscheduled maintenance
  • Locking out or tagging out

The emphasis program is ongoing until September 2019.

What Else is and Can Be Done?

OSHA’s recent push against rising amputation in the workplace highlights the need for employers to play a more active role in workplace safety. Regular training is a must, and machinery and all related safeguards must be kept in good repair. Employees must get enough rest in between shifts.

Employers who want to ensure they stay at the forefront of workplace safety can also look into hiring a workplace safety consultancy. These agencies provide risk management services can help review and create new sets of policies designed to protect employees.

Employees, too, need to play an active role when employers don’t take action. It is important to note that an employer can not legally retaliate against an employee who reported a violation or concern. These guidelines are outlined on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Whistleblower site.

Where Can I Find More Information on Workplace Amputation?

To find more detailed statistics related to workplace injury and keep track of the latest developments in workplace safety, be sure to visit OSHA’s website. They also have social media channels and an e-mail newsletter subscription to help you stay on top of the latest in occupational health.

If you or someone you know has recently undergone amputation due to work (or for any other reason), or if you have concerns about safety in your workplace, reach out to us. We will provide you with free personalized resources to help with your particular situation.