Safeguarding Machinery to Prevent Workplace Amputations

safeguard-machineryAmputations are among the most serious and debilitating workplace injuries. They occur most often when workers operate unguarded or inadequately safeguarded machinery such as mechanical power presses, power press brakes, powered and non-powered conveyors, printing presses, roll-forming and roll-bending machines, food slicers, meat grinders, meat-cutting band saws, drill presses and milling machines. Besides normal operation, the following activities involving stationary machines also expose workers to potential amputation hazards: setting-up, threading, preparing, adjusting, cleaning, lubricating and maintaining machines.

All mechanical motion is potentially hazardous.  The most common types of hazardous mechanical motion include:

  • Rotating—circular movement of couplings, cams, clutches, flywheels, and spindles as well as shaft ends and rotating collars that may grip clothing or otherwise force a body part into a dangerous location.
  • Reciprocating—back-and-forth or up-and-down action that may strike or entrap a worker between a moving part and a fixed object.
  • Transversing—movement in a straight, continuous line that may strike or catch a worker in a pinch or shear point created between the moving part and a fixed object.
  • Cutting—action generated during sawing, boring, drilling, milling, slicing and slitting.
  • Shearing—movement of a powered slide or knife during metal trimming or shearing.
  • Bending—action occurring when power is applied to a slide to draw or form metal or other materials.

Employees are mandated by OSHA standards to recognize, identify, manage and control amputation hazards caused by mechanical components of machinery, the mechanical motion that occurs in or near these components, and the activities that workers perform during mechanical operation.  Work practices, employee training, and administrative controls can help prevent and control amputation hazards. Machine safeguarding with the following equipment is the best way to control amputations caused by stationary machinery:

  • Guards provide physical barriers that prevent access to hazardous areas. They should be secure and strong, and workers should not be able to bypass, remove, or tamper with them.
  • Devices help prevent contact with points of operation and may replace or supplement guards. Devices can interrupt the normal cycle of the machine when the operator’s hands are at the point of operation, prevent the operator from reaching into the point of operation, or withdraw the operator’s hands if they approach the point of operation when the machine cycles.

Employers should consider safeguards when purchasing machinery. New machinery is usually available with safeguards installed by the manufacturer, or the appropriate safeguards can be purchased separately or built in-house.

For more information see the OSHA Amputations Fact Sheet.

The OSHA Training Center is offering OSHA 2045 – Machinery and Machine Guarding Standards on September 12-15, 2016, in Santa Rosa, CA, and on October 17-20, 2016, in Dublin, CA.

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