Many workers in various industries are at risk of suffering from amputations. Amputations are among the most serious and most debilitating injuries that people can face on the job. They happen when workers get caught or pulled into unguarded machinery, work with drill presses, unsafely come into contact with band saws and in many other situations.
There are three main kinds of machine components that are hazardous to workers and that may lead to life-threatening or debilitating amputations. Those include:
- Point of operation components, such as where the work is being performed
- Moving parts, such as moving saws and blades
- Power-transmission parts, such as spindles, cams, belts, chains and flywheels
Any time there is movement on a machine, there is a risk that an amputation could occur. While most people think about amputations as involving cutting motions, the truth is that amputations can be caused by punching motions, cutting actions, shearing, bending and more. When machinery rotates, moves in a back-and-forth motion or moves in a straight line that might strike another object, this is hazardous to workers.
The importance of guards cannot be overstated
Any time there are dangerous parts on a machine that others may come into contact with, it’s important to install the correct guards. Guards are physical barriers that stop workers from touching or coming into contact with moving parts. The guards aren’t necessarily going to stop a worker from doing their job, but it should provide protection against cuts and other injuries.
Your employer is responsible for adding guards to machinery if the guards have not been installed. If you approach a machine that is not guarded, you may be able to refuse to work until the working conditions are corrected.
If your employer will not make adaptations to correct a problem, then you can make a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. If you end up suffering an amputation because of the machine behind unguarded, then you may be able to pursue a workers’ compensation claim against your employer or a personal injury claim against a third party responsible for your injuries.