Workplace amputation accidents continue to leave U.S. workers with debilitating, lifelong injuries that can adversely impact their ability to work and earn an income, despite federal and state efforts to raise awareness among employers about the work-related hazards that cause these crippling injuries.
One of the latest examples of an on-the-job amputation accident occurred at an Elysburg, Pennsylvania toy manufacturing facility when a worker cleaning a machine suffered an arm amputation. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an employee of The Toy Factory became stuck in a machine when the amputation occurred.
Although OSHA doesn’t elaborate on the nature of the accident, its Oct. 4 citations indicate the machine accidentally powered on or was turned on while the worker was cleaning it, causing the arm amputation.
OSHA inspectors determined that the company failed to develop acceptable procedures to prevent the release of hazardous energy, apply lockout devices, train employees on lockout/tagout, and correct other electrical hazards.
OSHA cited the San Antonio, Texas-headquartered toy company for two serious and four willful safety violations with proposed penalties totaling $112,523.
“Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure that employees have a safe and healthful workplace,” said Mark Stelmack, OSHA’s Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Area Office Director. “This company’s failure to use appropriate machine locking devices resulted in a serious injury that could have been prevented.”
The enforcement action comes as part of the Labor Department’s ongoing efforts to stem severe work-related injuries. Since Jan. 1, 2015, the DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has required employers to report all severe work-related injuries, including amputations, within 24 hours.
According to federal data, U.S. workers suffer more than seven accidental on-the-job amputations a day. However, that estimate, which is based on amputation reporting requirement data OSHA has collected since Jan. 2015, does not take into account workplace accidents that occur in states with their own reporting requirements and response plans. In other words, the number of workplace amputations is almost certainly substantially higher.
Amputations occur most often when workers operate unguarded or inadequately safeguarded machines. Some of the machines that commonly deliver debilitating amputations include mechanical power presses, power press brakes, powered and non-powered conveyors, printing presses, roll-forming and roll-bending machines, food slicers, meat grinders, meat-cutting band saws, drill presses, milling machines, and shears, grinders, and slitters.