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OSHA updates amputation safety rules

Beginning on March 10, 2020, OSHA will begin a three-week period of education on a National Emphasis Program regarding amputations in the workplace. OSHA will also be reaching out to employers who need guidance on meeting the standards for machine guarding and maintenance. Many employers in Connecticut know, after all, that amputations often occur in machinery accidents.

The last time a National Emphasis Program was held for amputations was in 2015. The 2020 program updates the guidance but does not add any obligations for employers. It includes, for example, new coding requirements for amputation inspections and gives revised information on the targeting methodology for amputations. The OSHA information system offers a new appendix regarding codes in the North American Industry Classification System.

Employers are still required to report all amputations to OSHA. Amputations are defined as the loss, whether whole or in part, of a limb or other external body part. This includes fingertips, too, even when there is no bone loss.

OSHA states that employees who service and maintain heavy machinery are at high risk for injury, including permanent disability, when the machinery lacks guarding. Fatalities are always a possibility as well.

Amputations are obviously one type of injury that fall under workers' compensation law. Victims may file for workers' compensation benefits once they have achieved maximum medical improvement, and if successful, they can be reimbursed for all medical expenses and any short- or long-term disability leave. The benefits also cover wage replacement.

If the victim of a machinery accident died, then the family may file for death benefits, which cover funeral and burial expenses and more. Whatever the situation is like, one may want to consult an attorney before filing a claim. The attorney may help with any appeals, if necessary.

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