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OSHA Updates National Emphasis Program on Amputations

By Jordy Byrd

lockout tags in a facility

No job is worth risking life or limb.

According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, 2,000 manufacturing workers suffered amputations in 2012. That rate is two times higher (1.7 per 10,000 full-time employees) than all other industries – yet these injuries can be prevented with basic safety precautions. In response to the data, OSHA issued an updated National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Amputations this week.

The NEP on amputations was founded in 2006 in an effort to target and document industries with high rates of amputations as reported to BLS. OSHA's inspections over the past 40 years indicate primary culprits are unguarded machinery and hazardous energy during servicing and maintenance activities.

"Workers injured from unguarded machinery and equipment can suffer permanent disability or lose their lives," said OSHA Assistant Secretary of Labor Dr. David Michaels. "This directive will help ensure that employers identify and eliminate serious workplace hazards and provide safe workplaces for all workers."

The OSHA directive updates 2006 NEP standards and applies these standards to general industry workplaces where machinery is present. OSHA inspections will now include an evaluation of employee exposures during operations such as: clearing jams; cleaning, oiling or greasing machines or machine pans; and locking out machinery to prevent accidental start-up.

OSHA will also analyze record-keeping efforts during inspections. OSHA 300 logs and 301 incident reports for the current year and the previous three years will be reviewed during the inspection in order to identify recorded amputations associated with machinery and equipment.

These logs are vital, as new requirements for reporting work-related fatalities and injuries came into effect this year. Employers must now report fatalities within eight hours of learning of the incident, and must report any in-patient hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye within 24 hours of learning of the incident. Employers can report an event by telephone to the nearest OSHA area office or to OSHA's 24-hour hotline at 800-321-6742.