While the subject may be uncomfortable to discuss, simply stated, amputation injuries are on the rise. An amputation is a life-changing event and, in many cases, it can lead to significant lifestyle changes for the employee. It is estimated that one out of every 200 individuals in the United States has had an amputation of some form.
But what exactly constitutes an amputation, apart from the obvious?
How OSHA Defines Amputation
OSHA defines an amputation as the traumatic loss of a limb or other external body part. Amputations include a part, such as a limb or an appendage, that has been severed, cut off, amputated (either completely or partially); fingertip amputations with or without bone loss; medical amputations resulting from irreparable damage; and amputations of body parts that have since been reattached.
Causes of Traumatic Amputation
A traumatic amputation may involve any body part or extremity, including the arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, toes, ears. Statistically, the most common causes of accidental traumatic amputation injuries are as follows:
- Traffic accidents (including bicycles, trains, motorcycles)
- Workplace/factory/construction accidents
- Agricultural accidents
- Firearm/explosives/fireworks accidents (includes military casualties)
- Electrocution accidents
- Ring traction accidents
- Building and car door accidents
Amputation Treatment – Know Your Role
Should you have an employee experience an amputation injury, call 911 or seek immediate treatment.
While awaiting formal treatment, remember to:
Stop the Bleeding
- Have the injured person lie down, if possible, and elevate the injured area.
- Apply steady, direct pressure to the wound.
- Should blood soak through the covering bandage, apply another covering without removing the original.
Check for and Treat Shock
- With the person still lying flat, raise the feet about 12 inches.
- Don’t reposition the person if you suspect a head, neck, back, or leg injury.
- Cover with coat or blanket.
- Calm the person as much as possible until medical help arrives.
Save Amputated Body Part
In some cases, the amputated part can be reattached.
- Place in a clean, plastic bag.
- Have the bag transported with the injured person to the hospital.
OSHA Reporting Requirements
Amputation in the workplace is a terrible injury that deserves prompt attention to the extent that OSHA requires their reporting within 24 hours.