Minimizing Amputation Hazards

Amputations are some of the most serious and debilitating workplace injuries and can be caused by a variety of activities and equipment. With this in mind, it’s vital for employees like you to understand common amputation hazards and take steps to prevent them.

Common Amputation Hazards

While amputation hazards can stem from a range of tasks, they are most commonly associated with using certain machine components (e.g., points of operation, power-transmission apparatuses and other moving parts) and deploying specific mechanical motions (e.g., rotating, reciprocating, cutting, punching, shearing and bending). These hazards can also frequently arise during material-handling activities and when using equipment such as forklifts, trash compactors and hand tools.

Preventing Amputations

To reduce the risk of experiencing amputations on the job, consider the following best practices:

  • Wear the required personal protective equipment (PPE) for the task at hand. Ensure the proper use, maintenance and storage of this PPE.
  • Make sure machinery and other equipment have effective safety guards in place. Don’t remove or tamper with these guards.
  • Inspect machinery and other equipment before each use. Never use damaged equipment.

For more information on amputation hazards, consult your supervisor.

Ensuring Respiratory Protection

It may seem like a hassle to wear respiratory protection, but particles and contaminants you may encounter on the job—no matter how small—can cause both short- and long-term health complications. Respirators can help protect you when working in areas with insufficient oxygen, harmful dust, fog, smoke, mist, gases, vapors and sprays. Without proper safeguards in place, these hazards may cause cancer, lung impairment, respiratory diseases or death. OSHA requires employers to establish written respiratory protection plans and training programs, but the success of these efforts necessitates compliance from each employee. After all, safety is everyone’s concern. As such, it’s critical to review this documentation and make it a priority to always wear respiratory protection when necessary within the workplace.

Furthermore, here are some additional respirator safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Use respirators certified for use to protect against the contaminant you are working with. A label or statement of certification should appear on the respirator or respirator packaging. It will tell you what the respirator is designed for and how much it will protect you.
  • Inspect your respirator before each use. Alert your supervisor and replace your respirator if you find a crack, puncture, tear, leak or other unusual condition.
  • Check the face piece seal each time you wear your respirator. A proper face piece fit is critical.
  • Read and follow all instructions provided by the manufacturer on use, maintenance, cleaning and care as well as the warnings regarding your respirator’s limitations.
  • Use the correct cartridge for your respirator, if applicable. Examples of the different kinds of cartridges include dust, mist, organic vapor or combination. Make sure cartridges are not expired.
  • Keep track of your respirator so you don’t inadvertently use another employee’s respirator.
  • Make sure you stay properly trained in the use and maintenance of your respirator.

Talk to your supervisor for more workplace safety resources.