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OSHA paying a closer look at workplace amputations

Due to the risk of long-term injury or death from an amputation, OSHA has begun a campaign to increase worker safety in especially hazardous industries. The federal agency is targeting sawmills, commercial bakeries and retail establishments in Pennsylvania and around the country for further evaluation. They are being closely monitored due to worker interaction with machines that could cause serious injury or death if not used or guarded properly.

Specifically, the review will look to see how likely an employee is to be exposed to injury while cleaning or greasing a machine. It will also look to see if an employee is exposed to injury while clearing jams in the machine. Finally, it will check to see that machines are locked while they are not in use, which would decrease the odds of it starting when it is not supposed to.

To determine where extra review should take place, OHSA used a combination of current enforcement statistics as well as data obtained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the BLS, 2,000 manufacturing workers suffered an amputation in 2013, which translates to a rate of 1.7 per 10,000 full-time workers. This was more than double the average for the private sector as a whole.

A worker who suffers a serious injury while on the job may be eligible to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. Such benefits could include the furnishing of necessary medical care and treatment as well as a percentage of wages lost while absent from work. Many injured workers find the assistance of an attorney helpful when preparing and filing the required claim.

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