Amputation hazards in the manufacturing industry are all too real for workers. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to completely eradicate the risk of losing a body part in a manufacturing setting, but there are plenty of ways that OSHA regulates safety in manufacturing plants and factories specifically to prevent serious injuries like this. As a business owner, you can take steps to bring your manufacturing space into OSHA compliance and rest easy knowing your workers are safe. 

Emphasis on Reducing Amputations

In 2015, OSHA issued a National Emphasis Program (NEP) focused on amputations. Early this year, it updated its NEP to include more data from amputation reporting requirements, change its coding requirements for amputation inspections within the OSHA Information System, and more. The revised NEP also provides for three months of education and prevention outreach until March 10th.  As of 2021, this NEP continues in effect and will likely continue to pose a risk for many years to come due to the serious nature of amputations.

As a part of this new emphasis, OSHA updated its machine guarding information to help employers fix amputation hazards and properly follow procedures to make stationary and portable machinery safer. The revisions to the NEP were intended to focus on smaller employers. 

What You Can Do

OSHA has a wealth of information on how to make your manufacturing site safer for your workers. Its Machine Guarding information page has a list of resources to help. 

According to OSHA, there are several mechanical motions that cause the most amputations. The rotation of devices like couplings, flywheels, and spindles can catch clothing and force body parts into dangerous areas, such as the point of operation. Up and down action, or reciprocating action, can also entrap a worker’s body part between a moving and a fixed object. Bending or forming metal usually involves immense power being applied to a slide, which can also be dangerous to workers. Cutting, punching, and shearing actions are also cited by OSHA as common amputation hazards. 

Guarding and safeguarding machinery, along with proper safety training and concepts, is one of the main ways manufacturing companies can protect their workers from losing body parts. Machine guards physically prevent certain moving parts from coming into contact with workers. Most new manufacturing equipment comes with these guards installed, but used equipment might not. Safeguards are made to stop the operation of the machinery when any part of a worker’s body is near the hazardous portion of the machine. These safeguards prevent employee contact with the hazard area during normal machine operation and avoid creating additional hazards itself. They must be secure, durable, and tamper-resistant while avoiding interfering with the normal operation of the machinery.

The risk of amputations make Machine guarding violations to be some of the most common citations every year by OSHA, in addition to many others.  This is a reminder of the importance of having a plan to be prepared for OSHA inspections.

After OSHA’s education and prevention outreach efforts end on March 10th, enforcement of this new emphasis will start. Using OSHA’s guidelines, you can get your manufacturing space up to code until then. Berg Compliance Solutions has been working with small businesses struggling to keep up with these new rules and emphases since 2013 and will help you develop the solutions you’ll need for guarding and safeguarding your machinery to prevent amputations. 

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