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Amputations and new OSHA directive

Both employees and employers in New Jersey should be aware of a recent directive issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The directive updates the agency's policies on safety measures designed to reduce the number of workplace amputation injuries from unguarded machinery.

According to the directive, the National Emphasis Program on amputations has now been revised. Inside of the directive is a list of industries in which the most workers experience amputation injury accidents. The list includes sawmills, bakeries, manufacturers, machine shops and meat processing companies.

The agency acted after the Bureau of Labor Statistics released statistics for 2013. During that year, 2,000 workers across the country suffered from amputation injuries in the manufacturing sector alone while working on the job. That rate was more than twice as much as the rate for all other private industries in general. OSHA emphasized the importance of guarding machinery so that workers working nearby do not get caught in it. Inspections will focus on exposure to risks for employees who are doing such things as clearing jams from machines or greasing, oiling or cleaning machines. They will also evaluate risks to employees who are responsible for locking out machinery.

On-the-job injuries can leave victims with catastrophic, lifelong disabilities. Because of the risks to workers, most employers are required to have workers' compensation insurance. An eligible worker who suffers an injury may file a claim for benefits under that policy. Many such workers obtain the assistance of an experienced attorney in preparing and filing the claim for benefits, which could include the provision of necessary medical care and treatment.

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