Several amputation risks were among the hazards that inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Atlanta office found throughout a Dalton, Georgia-based carpet graphics company. OSHA announced last week that it would propose penalties of $45,000 for safety and health violations it found while inspecting Qualitech Graphics Inc. in January.
Workplace amputations are some of the most traumatic, debilitating, and unfortunately common accidents that happen to workers on the job. Sometimes the loss of fingers or limbs is a result of malfunctioning or improperly maintained equipment. Sometimes it’s a result of working around dangerous machines that lack the proper government-mandated safeguards. Still other amputations are caused by a lack of employee training regarding the proper use and safe handling of machinery.
“OSHA found numerous serious hazards, some of which involve risk of possible amputations by unguarded equipment and dangers related to improperly maintained forklifts,” said Andre Richards, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-West Area Office. “No business should allow these types of hazards in its workplace.”
Other serious violations included hazards related to fire, tripping, and electrical deficiencies, as well as several forklift hazards, such as allowing employees to operate a forklift truck that had missing and damaged parts, not providing training on safe operation of forklift trucks, and not conducting daily inspections of the forklift truck.
The amputation violations OSHA found in the Dalton plant, which employs 19 people and prints graphic designs on carpet, are identified in its National Emphasis Program on Amputations. OSHA says that employers should be able to recognize, identify, manage, and control amputation hazards commonly found in the workplace, such as those caused by mechanical components of machinery, the mechanical motion that occurs in or near machinery, and the activities that workers perform during mechanical operation.
“Work practices, employee training, and administrative controls can help prevent and control amputation hazards,” OSHA said. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of 21 fatal and more than 11,000 nonfatal amputations occur each year in the workplace. The majority of nonfatal amputations occur in the manufacturing industry at a rate of two and a half times higher than any other industry.