In 2015, it became compulsory for business owners in Minnesota to report occupational amputations to the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration within 24 hours. Since then, the agency reportedly investigates an average of 13 such workplace injuries per year. MNOSHA recently expressed concern over the sudden increase in these numbers.
The agency reports that 15 amputations have occurred between Oct. 1, 2018, and June 19 this year. Reportedly, the majority of these incidents involved the fingers and hands of workers. Employers are urged to reassess workplace safety and take the necessary corrective action. By law, employers are responsible for the health and safety of their employees.
MNOSHA says the most common safety violation that leads to amputations is the lack of adequate safeguards on equipment like power tools, machinery and mechanical equipment. Machine parts that rotate, traverse, reciprocate, punch, cut, bend or shear must be covered with appropriate safeguarding to prevent workers from making contact with moving parts. Proper lockout/tagout protocols must also be in place and enforced to make sure equipment is de-energized before cleaning, maintenance or repairs are carried out.
Amputations are debilitating workplace injuries that could leave victims unable to return to the same job. In such circumstances, it might be a good idea to seek legal counsel to help with the navigation of a workers' compensation claim. An attorney who has experience in dealing with the Minnesota insurance program can assist with obtaining maximum benefits, which might include the opportunity to be assigned to modified duties or to learn new skills in a vocational training program.