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Countering amputation risks in the workplace

Pennsylvania workers know far too well that serious injuries may happen on the job. When faulty equipment or lack of safety precautions is involved, repeat accidents may be the focus of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation. This is the case with a chimney supply company in Scranton.

In June 2014, OSHA inspected the facility using the National Emphasis Program of Amputations guidelines to reduce dangers associated with machinery in the workplace that may result in amputation. Reviewing repeat occurrences of crushed or amputated fingers at the facility, OSHA found multiple safety violations and levied a fine of $49,000. The 14 safety violations included lack of proper machinery guards and repeated lockout/tagout procedure deficiencies. Such procedures prevent a piece of equipment from starting when the machinery is undergoing maintenance. This is a major cause of danger in the workplace and a common cause of amputation.

The company was given 15 days to either contest the decision or comply with recommendations and pay the fine. The company may also choose to meet with a representative from OSHA. The national program was designed to reduce workplace injuries by focusing on companies that utilize equipment with the potential for amputation and facilities where amputations have previously occurred. Inspectors take note of nip and shear points as well as the cuttings actions involved. Once identified, the program's directive is to reduce the risk of amputation. This may be done by implementing appropriate safety procedures.

Reducing risk in the workplace is essential. However, amputation on the job may result in extended medical care and rehabilitation. If workers' compensation eligibility requirements are met, the worker may receive benefits for medical care including prosthetics. Consulting an attorney who may assist the worker in receiving the proper benefit amount or appealing a denial of benefits might be beneficial.

Source: United States Department of Labor, OSHA, 'National Emphasis Program on Amputations," Oct. 27, 2006

https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show

Source: EHS Today, "Forget the Two Front Teeth: All Employees at Olympia Chimney Supply Want for Christmas Are Their Fingers", Sandy Smith, December 22, 2014

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