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Safety Tips | Machine guarding

Avoiding amputations

February 1, 2009

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One of the worst injuries a worker can sustain is an amputation. OSHA reports that thousands of workers every year lose body parts – most often a fingertip – as a result of on-the-job accidents. According to the National Safety Council, amputations incur the highest workers’ compensation costs of any other type of injury, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that an average of 21 workers are killed as a result of workplace amputations each year.

OSHA points to compression or crushing by machines as a primary cause of amputations. Particularly dangerous equipment includes:

  • Mechanical power presses
  • Power press brakes
  • Powered and nonpowered conveyers
  • Roll-forming and roll-bending machines
  • Food slicers
  • Meat grinders
  • Band saws
  • Drill presses
  • Milling machines
  • Shears, grinders and slitters
  • Table and portable saws<.li>

The first step to avoiding amputation hazards is to recognize them. Examine the equipment used in your workplace and assess the risks. Machine guards should provide a physical barrier to dangerous areas that cannot be bypassed, removed or otherwise tampered with. At the same time, these guards should not obstruct the machine operator’s view or prevent the operator from working. Devices also can be used to prevent contact with points of operation and can sometimes replace supplemental guards, according to OSHA.

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