A workplace accident can lead to amputation in one of two ways: 1) you could lose a limb in the actual accident or; 2) the event could leave you with injuries so severe that surgeons have little choice but to amputate afterward.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, machinery was involved in 58% of workplace amputations in 2018. Serious accidents that lead to amputations can happen due to a wide range of incidents.
Hazardous activities and equipment
Accidents that can lead to an amputation can happen in many different industries, from construction to restaurants. OSHA states the following activities and equipment pose the greatest risks for amputation when left “unguarded or inadequately safeguarded”:
- Mechanical power presses and power press brakes
- Conveyors, both powered and non-powered
- Food slicers and meat grinders
- Drill presses
- Milling machines
- Table and portable saws
- Printing presses
Workers can lose a finger, hand, toe, foot or more through compression, crushing or getting stuck between objects. Workplace-related amputations accounted for 6,200 missed days from work in 2018, with the median recovery time for an injury lasting 31 days, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
How can workers stay safe?
Employers have a responsibility to protect employees from workplace hazards. Safeguarding high-risk machinery and providing regular employee safety training are critical to lessening the risk of serious accidents. OSHA states two clear ways to safeguard stationary or portable machinery:
- Guards: These provide secure physical barriers to the hazardous part of the machinery.
- Devices: These can be used in place of or in addition to guards and can prevent dangerous contact.
The loss of a limb can be catastrophic. Depending on the severity of the accident, you may be unable to return to work or at least to your exact position. Workers’ compensation can provide injured workers with the compensation they need to recover from a serious accident.