OSHA’s Increased Focus on Amputation Prevention: What It Means for Manufacturers

By Michael Benedict on June 10, 2016

Technician Examining GearsIn an effort to reduce the number of amputations in manufacturing, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently updated its National Emphasis Program on Amputations.

Effective August 2015, the program increases the number and type of workplaces that can be subject to amputation inspections.

The program is needed: The rate of amputations in the manufacturing sector is 1.7 per 10,000 employees. That’s more than twice that of the rest of the private sector.

OSHA is also signaling that it takes this new initiative seriously. After two workers suffered partial amputations of their index fingers in separate incidents in October 2015, investigators found numerous machines lacked safety guards at a manufacturing facility of medical technology manufacturer, Becton, Dickinson and Company. On April 11, OSHA cited the company for numerous violations related to the incidents and has proposed penalties of $112,700.

Here’s what you need to know about the new program.

OSHA will be inspecting workplaces in a number of industries (the full list is pretty long, but you can see it starting on page 8 of this PDF): think food and beverage production; millwork and other lumber-related industries; paper, cardboard, and plastics production; and of course machine shops, automotive manufacturing, and other equipment manufacturing. Area OSHA inspectors will generate a randomized list of all businesses in the area that fall into one of those industries and then start working down the list.

“This results in a randomized inspection process that is unbiased,” say safety consultants Optimum Safety Management. “This also means that if you are in the industries above, you can expect your name to be drawn.”

Inspectors will be checking for the presence of machines that could cause amputations and looking at your past three years of OSHA 300 and 301 logs.

Potentially dangerous machines

Any machine that has the ability to nip, pinch, shear, or cut is a potential amputation point. To ensure safety of your workers, pay careful attention to the point of operation (where the machine performs work on the material); power transmission apparatuses (such as flywheels, pulleys, spindles, and gears); and other moving parts (such as reciprocating, rotating, and transverse moving parts), advises OSHA.

OSHA says that it will look at the following:

  • Agricultural, garden machinery, bailers
  • Aerial lift platforms
  • Benders, Rollers and Shapers
  • Cranes (unspecified)
  • Casting Machinery Conveyors – Belt, Chain, Live Roller, and Auger Screw Conveyors
  • Heating and cooking machinery and appliances
  • Drills – Stationary
  • Extruding Machinery
  • Food and Beverage Processing
  • Grinders, Abraders, and Meat Grinders
  • Material and personnel handling machinery
  • Metal, woodworking, and special material machinery
  • Milling Machines
  • Mowing machinery
  • Mixers, Blenders, Whippers, Slicers, and Food Beverage Processing Equipment
  • Packing, Wrapping, Bundling Machinery
  • Plastic Injection Molding Machinery
  • Press Brakes (All Types)
  • Presses (Mechanical, Hydraulic, and Pneumatic)
  • Printing Presses
  • Sawing Machinery – (Band, Table, Radial Arm Saws)
  • Shears (All Types)

If your facility doesn’t contain any of this equipment, don’t sit back and relax. An OSHA inspection won’t be limited to just these items; anything that might be a cause of amputation is up for inspection.

What inspectors will look for

The OSHA inspector will be checking how your employees interact with these machines; whether they follow proper procedures during clearing jams, cleaning, oiling or greasing, and lockout/tagout.

“The failure to properly apply machine guarding techniques and the failure to adequately control associated energy hazards during servicing and/or maintenance activities are primary causes of amputations,” according to OSHA.

One of the best ways to ensure the safety of your machines is through regular safety inspections. That’s where digital comes in. With mobile form apps, such as Canvas’s safety inspection app for machine guarding, you can make sure your equipment is running safely — long before an inspector’s visit. And you can put all your machines through regular safety audits, using mobile apps that cover employee training, power shut-off, and guarding for chains and gears.

Of course, your people are your most important investment.  By requiring them to use digital safety checklists, you can ensure they’re up to speed on the safest way to use your company’s equipment. As we’ve said before, even pilots and surgeons use checklists — because they’re powerful tools to make sure nothing gets missed as jobs become increasingly complex.

If you’ve been working from paper inspection sheets and checklists, now’s the time to convert to mobile forms. Tracking maintenance schedules and safety inspections with paper forms includes too many unnecessary steps and opportunities for error. Forms get lost or filed away and forgotten. And mistakes happen when you have to retype information from the forms into your computer system back at the office.

By contrast, mobile forms are accessible to your employees from any device at any time. What’s more, as soon as the form is submitted, you have access to it in real time wherever you are— in the office or at any other plant around the world. That data can be analyzed and arranged on dashboards so that you can spot and act on problems as quickly as possible.


When you’re visited by an OSHA inspector under the National Emphasis Program on Amputations, he or she will also want to see your injury and illness records for the current year and the past three years.

When that happens, do you really want to spend hours tracking down paper forms, then making photocopies?

Now, OSHA does require you to log incident reports on their form, but you may still wish to use your own logging system. With GoCanvas, you can easily generate OSHA forms from the data you enter using PDF Designer. That way the data is stored in the cloud, safely and accessible from anywhere, and you can use it to generate your own reports in addition to the forms the OSHA inspector will request.

If you’re running a quality shop, if your employees are well trained to follow safety procedures, and if your recordkeeping is on point, you have nothing to fear from an OSHA inspection. And with GoCanvas, you can make your recordkeeping and internal inspections safer and easier.

Try GoCanvas for free today to see how we can help your manufacturing company implement mobile forms and data analysis for real-time insights to avoid workplace injuries — and OSHA fines.