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Will National Emphasis Program prevent amputation injuries?

Workers in the manufacturing industry nationwide, including in Missouri, may find comfort in learning that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched a National Emphasis Program on Amputations to replace the program that has been followed since 2006. Information obtained from records of previous violators and amputation injuries over the past 40 years will be analyzed to target dangerous work sites. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2,000 employees in the manufacturing industry suffered amputation injuries in 2013.

Amputation injuries are reportedly mostly caused by equipment and machinery that are not fitted with safety guards. Another oversight in many workplaces is the absence of devices to prevent activation of machines while maintenance or services are being carried out. OSHA says workplace accidents caused by such safety violations can result in permanent disabilities and even worker fatalities.

The updated emphasis program will ensure strict enforcement of safety compliance in all industries, but with a particular focus on manufacturing. Employers must report amputation injuries within 24 hours. Reportable injuries include severed limbs or appendages that were partially or completely amputated, finger amputations, even if it is only the tip and no bone loss, and medical amputations that followed severe injuries.

While this program promises to provide more protection from amputation injuries, accidents will likely continue to occur. Missouri workers may pursue compensation for medical expenses and lost wages through the workers' compensation insurance fund. However, victims of amputation injuries may be awarded additional compensation, along with vocational training, to provide them with alternative work skills that will accommodate their disabilities.

Source: safety.blr.com, "OSHA updates amputation emphasis program", Aug. 20, 2015

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