Amputations are some of the most serious and debilitating kinds of injuries one can sustain in the workplace.
These types of injuries are not uncommon and can result from a number of activities and equipment. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), amputations happen most often when employees are working with unguarded equipment on inadequate safeguards.
These accidents often occur while working with food slicers, roll-forming and roll-bending machines, printing presses, conveyors, power press brakes, slitters, grinders and shears. They can also happen when working with forklifts, trash compactors and even hand tools.
The most common amputations result in trauma to the hand, wrist, finger, arm, foot and leg. Sometimes a body part can be crushed so severely in an accident that it needs to be amputated.
Our Asheville workers' compensation attorneys understand that amputations are often life-altering injuries. OSHA has standards in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations to protect workers from amputations in the workplace. But just because these regulations are in effect, doesn't mean that employers are listening and working to prevent injury.
According to the National Limb Loss Information Center, there are more than 1.5 million people who are currently living with limb loss. This means that one out of every 200 people in the U.S. is dealing with an amputation.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were more than 170 fatal workplace amputations in the U.S. from 1992 to 1999. In addition to these fatalities, there were another 90,000 amputation injuries reported during the same time period. Although these kinds of injuries account for less than 1 percent of injury-related and fatal accidents during the 8-year period, the seriousness of these cases often impacts the employee and the employer much more profoundly than other kinds of injuries. Because of their severity, these kinds of injuries have received increased attention in recent years.
According to the US Department of Labor, approximately one half of all amputation injuries occur in the manufacturing sector in the United States. While amputation injuries are more likely to occur when you use machinery or heavy equipment as part of your job, amputation can unfortunately happen to anyone who is involved in a serious workplace accident.
Many believe that these numbers don't tell the whole story. According to Michigan State University, federal officials aren't tracking these injuries properly. According to a recent University study, the number of amputations following on-the-job accidents in the state was close to two-and-a-half times higher than the official estimate from the BLS.
Researchers looked at more than 615 work-related amputations throughout 2008. According to federal estimates, there only about 250 amputations during this time.
How can we fix these problems if they're never reported? This goes the same as workplace hazards. You've got to speak up and let someone know about your concerns. If no one knows, how can you expect change? Communication is a key in keeping your workplace safe.