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July 23, 2013
OSHA search for amputation hazards reveals much more

When OSHA compliance officers inspected a Hawaii concrete manufacturing company for amputation hazards, they discovered other significant risks. And they didn’t hesitate to cite and fine the employer for them. Keep reading to find out about the cost of noncompliance.

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OSHA inspectors visited the workplace as part of the agency’s National Emphasis Program for amputations. As expected, violations were identified relating to unguarded machinery and gears and unexpected start-up of equipment during maintenance and setup.

But they also uncovered a number of other problems not specifically related to amputations. A total of 22 serious violations were identified for issues including confined space hazards, lack of a respiratory protection program, and unprotected platforms. The proposed fines totaled more than $50,000.

The OSHA officer in charge advised that, “An employer shouldn’t wait for an OSHA inspection to address workplace safety and health issues to prevent injury and illnesses.”

Top tips to avoid amputations

Every year, thousands of employees lose fingers, hands, feet, and other body parts. This happens as a result of compression, crushing, or when body parts get caught between or struck by objects.

According to OSHA, most amputations involve fingertips, and most occur when employees operate unguarded or inadequately safeguarded equipment. Examples are mechanical power presses, power press brakes, powered and nonpowered conveyors, printing presses, food slicers, meat grinders, band saws, and slitters.

Identify and avoid amputation hazards through guarding, safe work practices, employee training, and administrative controls. According to OSHA, machine guarding is the best means of prevention.

Guards provide physical barriers to hazardous areas. They should be secure and strong, and employees should not be able to bypass, remove, or tamper with them. Guards should not obstruct the operator’s view or prevent employees from working.

Devices help prevent contact points of operation and may replace or supplement guards. Devices can interrupt the normal cycle of a machine when the operator’s hands are at the point of operation.

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