Tennessee OSHA Reports 352 Amputations in FY 2007

Every year, thousands of workers in the United States suffer amputations, one of the most severe and disabling workplace injuries. According to Tennessee OSHA (TOSHA), 352 amputations were reported in FY 2007 in the state of Tennessee alone.

A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study found that 20 to 50 percent of all machines in use are unguarded or poorly guarded at the point of operation. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate that about 10 percent of all reported amputations occur among power press operators.

The majority of workplace amputations occur in the manufacturing sector, TOSHA said, noting that the injuries result from the use of machines such as saws, presses, conveyors and bending, rolling or shaping machines, as well as from powered and non-powered hand tools, forklifts, doors, trash compactors and during materials handling activities.

“TOSHA believes employee exposure to unguarded or inadequately guarded machines is a primary cause of amputations,” said TOSHA Administrator John Winkler. “We feel it is very important to help make sure facilities with machines that could cause amputations are properly safeguarded.”

To reduce these numbers, TOSHA implemented a special emphasis program to identify and reduce the workplace hazards that cause or are likely to cause amputations. This program targets all types of power presses (including press brakes) as well as saws, shears, and slicers because these machines account for a significant number of amputation injuries in general industry, TOSHA said.

The state agency also emphasized that preventing amputations is best done through safeguarding machinery and lockout/tagout.

For more information on TOSHA's special emphasis program on amputations, visit the program's Web page at http://tennessee.gov/labor-wfd/tosha_amputations.html.

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