OSHA updates amputation regulations

Changes to federal regulations were prompted by concerns that amputation injuries in the workplace are under reported.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently announced an update to the National Emphasis Program on Amputations (NEP). OSHA describes amputation injuries as those that result in the "traumatic loss of limb or other external body part." These injuries can range in severity, from partial fingertip loss with or without loss of bone to the loss of an arm or leg.

The update was catalyzed by concerns that workplace amputation injuries were under reported. As a result, the agency intends to take a two pronged approach. First, it will target machinery that can result in these injuries with increased safety regulations. The agency will follow up with increased inspection efforts.

NEP: What is it?

NEP began in 2006 and is designed to reduce the rate of amputations in the workplace. OSHA states that the Bureau of Labor Statistics most recent data from 2013 found 2,000 workers suffered from amputation injuries in 2013. This data showed that the manufacturing sector was at particular risk, with over two times as many injuries in comparison to the private industry.

The update focused on four areas:

  • Outreach. OSHA requires each Regional and Area Office to conduct a 90 day outreach program. This program is designed to increase awareness of the changes to safety regulations for machines that could cause amputation injuries. The program can make use of newsletters, mailings, training and speeches to spread the information.
  • Inspection. Inspections will include a review of the presence of any machinery that could cause amputations. If present, investigators are to conduct a review with particular attention to potential exposure to "nip points, pinch points, shear points, cutting actions and other point(s) of operation." Exposure during regular operation, cleaning and clearing jams within the machine will be reviewed.
  • Site selection. Generally, employers with 10 or fewer employees are not targeted for inspection. Inspections will include establishments with machinery likely to cause amputations or with reported amputation injuries or fatalities occurring in the last five years.
  • Program approval. Any deviations are to be approved by the National Office.

These are just a few of the highlights of NEP.

What should I do if I suffer an injury while working?

Even when regulations are followed, accidents can happen. Workers who are injured on-the-job generally qualify for compensation through a workers' compensation claim.

In the event of an accident, it is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced workers' compensation attorney. This legal professional will advocate for your rights, working to better ensure you receive the full compensation you are entitled.

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