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Prevention of Workplace Amputations

Georgia Tech Safety and Health Consultation Program
Gayle Fratto, Safety Engineer

The objective of the Amputations category of the Consultation Activity Performance Project is to discover the major causes of amputations in the workplace and help develop strategies to prevent them.

The following SICs were identified by OSHA to be of concern:

3714 Motor Vehicle Part 2431 Millwork
3089 Plastic Products 2011 Meat Packing Plants
3465 Automotive Stampings 2015 Poultry Slaughtering
2394 Canvas and Related Products 2759 Commercial Printing
2421 Sawmills and Planing Mills 2051 Bread & Other Bakery Products
3444 Fabricated Plate Work  

With the constraints of the Consultation program, other industries were added to our study. These industries included general woodworking facilities and machine shop facilities within non-strategic industries.

Major Findings

During the past year, 16 companies in the above industries received a safety survey. Out of those 16, only two (2) had injuries resulting in amputation. However, over 92 machine guarding hazards were found, with 49 of those associated with an absence of point of operation safeguarding. In addition, 19 Lockout/Tagout hazards were found. Clearly one of the major potential injury outcomes from the lack of point of operation guarding is limb amputation.

Visit and Hazard Summary
Companies visited: 16
Woodworking companies: 02
Sheet metal or other metal working companies: 08
Printing companies: 04
Other: 02

Companies with mechanical power presses or press brakes: 06
Machine guarding hazards found: 92*
Point of operation hazards found: 49
Point of operation hazards on power presses or press brakes found: 38
Lockout/Tagout hazards found: 19

*All machine guarding hazards were abated either during or following the safety survey.


Guard all point of operation hazards. The traditional means of machine safeguarding are described below. They include the use of barrier or fixed guarding and detection devices that will effectively stop or prevent equipment from operating when the hands enter the hazard area or prevent the hands from entering the hazard area (e.g., pullback and restraint). Finally, physical location may help prevent access to the hazard area.

Examples of Methods of Machine Guarding:
  1. Guards
    • Fixed
    • Interlocked
    • Adjustable
    • Self-adjusting
  2. Devices
    • Presence Sensing
    • Pullback
    • Restraint
    • Safety Controls
      • Safety trip control (pressure sensitive body bar, safety tripod, safety trip wire/cable)
      • Two hand control
      • Two hand trip
    • Gates
  3. Location/Distance
  4. Other
    • Auto/semi-auto feed
    • Autto/semi-auto ejection
    • Robot
    • Awareness barriers
    • Miscellaneous protective shield
    • Hand-feeding tools and holdings

Guard all other machine hazards including power transmission equipment.

Types of Hazardous Mechanical Motions and Actions
Requirements for Safeguards
  1. Prevent contact with hazard(s)
  2. Secure in place
  3. Protect from falling objects
  4. Create no new hazards
  5. Create no interference
  6. Allow for safe easy access and lubrication

Train employees on the importance of guarding.

Training should include the following:
  1. A description and identification of the hazards associated with particular machines. A good format for this is the Job Hazard Analysis. This method requires that you break down each job into its basic steps or elements and describe the hazards and controls associated with each step. See OSHA Publication # 3071 for information on how to develop JHAs at your workplace (
  2. The safeguards themselves, how they provide protection, and the hazards for which they are intended.
  3. How to use and adjust the safeguarding system and why.
  4. How and under what circumstances safeguards can be removed, and by whom (in most cases, repair and maintenance personnel only).
  5. What to do if a safeguard is damaged, missing, or unable to provide adequate protection.

To protect employees from the unexpected energization of equipment during machine maintenance and repair operations it is essential to implement a complete Lockout/Tagout program that includes written procedures and training of all employees.

Lockout/Tagout Program elements:
  1. General written program that discusses definitions, general procedures for lockout/tagout, training requirements, and procedures for contractors and multiple employee and shift lockout.
  2. Machine specific procedures for each piece of equipment that falls under the lockout/tagout standard.
  3. Documented training for authorized and affected employees.
  4. Annual audit of lockout/tagout procedures.

Contact Georgia Tech to request a copy of our sample Lockout/Tagout Program.


OSHA Machine Guarding Site

Robotics Industries Association

Machine Guarding Vendor

Oklahoma State University Machine Guarding Site

Manitoba Labour Workplace Safety and Health Division

National Safety Council's two volume ACCIDENT PREVENTION MANUAL for Business & Industry (go to and click on "Products")

OSHA Publication #3071: Job Hazard Analysis (available on the OSHA website: