OSHA Tackles Amputation Tragedies

All industrial injuries are tragic.  Lives may be lost; working careers cut short.  However, one incident announced last week was especially heartbreaking.  A 21-year old, just a few hours into his first day at the job,  was burned so badly on a plastic molding machine that he lost four of fingers.   OSHA, which views that as an ambulation incident, cited the Ohio employer and fined it $171,000.

The agency is stepping up its efforts to prevent amputations nationwide.  At the beginning of the year, it put new reporting requirements in place that said employers must report all amputations, loss of an eye or hospitalizations within a day.  Now it has updated its Instruction, National Emphasis Program on Amputations.  It means industries with higher than average rates of amputation incidents will be targeted for inspections.  Not surprising, manufacturing is high on the list.

The incidence of amputations in the workplace has gone down, but not nearly enough.   In 2005, OSHA said there were 8,450 nonfatal amputations.   In releasing the updated instruction,  OSHA said there were 2,000 amputations in 2013.

As if to highlight its focus, OSHA cited another employer just today for exposing workers to amputation hazards.

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