Oregon Aims to Prevent Amputations Resulting from Work

February 24, 2011

Oregon’s Department of Consumer and Business Services’ Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) announced it will begin an “emphasis program” to reduce injuries and workplace risks that result in amputations.

Starting this month, the agency will focus more on inspections of job sites with machinery, equipment, and processes that cause amputations and job sites where amputations have occurred in the past. Industries with significant hazards and high amputation rates include meat packing plants, food processing, pulp and paper mills, sawmills, cabinet manufacturing, sheet metal work, foundries, and commercial printing among others.

“The loss of a finger or limb can be life changing for any worker,” said Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood. “This emphasis program will help us identify risks earlier so that employers can prevent amputations.”

From 2005 to 2009, Oregon had more than 800 accepted workers’ compensation claims for amputations. Machinery was the source of more than half of those claims, and powered hand tools added another 8 percent to the total. Nearly all of the amputations – 97 percent – were fingers.

OSHA said its inspectors will assess machinery cleaning, jams, and regular operations, along with maintenance procedures. The scope of an inspection may be expanded to address unrelated hazards if they pose a serious danger.

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