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Reversing the trend of workplace amputations

Some of the most serious and debilitating injuries that can occur in the workplace include amputations of the fingers, hands or other extremities. Unfortunately, according to WCCO 4 News, Minnesota has seen an increase in reported amputation injuries in the workplace. Fifteen reports of work-related amputations have come into the state division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration since the beginning of the current fiscal year in October 2018. This allegedly marks an increase, yet statistics from previous years are not readily available. 

Employers and employees alike can take steps to reverse this disturbing trend. Employers can offer additional training to their employees regarding dangerous equipment that could cause amputations. Additionally, employers can and should reassess potential workplace amputation hazards as soon as possible. 

OSHA explains that the best way to control amputations related to stationary equipment is with machine safeguarding. This includes devices that detect a worker's proximity to the machine and stop its operation if an individual gets too close. Machine safeguarding also includes guards or physical barriers that allow employees to continue doing their jobs while preventing access to hazardous areas. 

Employees also have a part to play in preventing workplace amputations. This can involve an awareness of the types of mechanical motion that can cause the greatest hazards. These include punching, bending, shearing, cutting and reciprocating. Additionally, workers should be able to recognize hazardous machine components. These include components that transmit energy, such as spindles, cams and flywheels, as well as components in the area where the machine performs work on the material, also known as the point of operation. 

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