Tennessee OSHA Reports 352 Workplace Amputations for 2007

Amputations are among the most severe and disabling workplace injuries, often resulting in permanent disability. According to the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration, thousands of U.S. workers across all industries suffer workplace amputations. In Tennessee alone for FY 2007, 352 amputations were reported, the majority of which occurred in the manufacturing sector. Many of these injuries result from the use and care of machines such as saws, presses, conveyors, and bending, rolling, or shaping machines as well as from powered and non-powered hand tools, forklifts, doors, trash compactors, and during materials handling activities, the agency notes.

"TOSHA believes employee exposure to unguarded or inadequately guarded machines is a primary cause of amputations," said John Winkler, TOSHA administrator. "We feel it is very important to help make sure facilities with machines that could cause amputations are properly safeguarded." To reduce these numbers, the agency has implemented a special emphasis program that focuses on amputations. The program is designed to identify and reduce the workplace hazards that are causing or likely to cause amputations.

In order to target specific industries with high amputation rates, TOSHA compliance officers use injury reports from the Workers' Compensation Division of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. TOSHA also provides information on amputation awareness to industry professionals in all their training seminars, noting that the best ways to prevent amputation are through safeguarding machinery and lockout tagout.

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