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Common Causes of Workplace Amputations

The most hazardous industries and machinery for limb loss in NYC

Workplace amputations are severe injuries that involve the loss of a limb or part of a limb, such as a finger, hand, toe, foot, arm, or leg. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), thousands of workers suffer amputation injuries in the United States each year. In the meat packing industry alone, there are about two amputations reported per week. These traumatic events can be life-changing and may result from a variety of causes, many of which are preventable with proper safety measures and training.

How amputations accidents at work happen

The most common causes of amputations in the workplace stem from accidents involving the operation of heavy machinery, lack of safety protocols, and other factors. Heavy equipment/machinery is involved in almost 60 percent of reported amputations. Some specific common causes include:

  • Machine entanglement. Workers operating machines without proper guards are at risk of having clothing, jewelry, or body parts becoming entangled in moving parts. The most common types of machinery in amputations were for the processing of metal or wood.
  • Parts, materials, containers, furniture, and fixtures. Heavy materials can crush limbs, necessitating medical amputation.
  • Motor vehicle accidents.
  • Power tools mishap. Improper use of power saws and drills leading to accidental cuts or severe injuries.
  • Lack of training. Without appropriate training, workers may not know how to safely operate machinery or recognize potential hazards.
  • Inadequate safety measures. Missing safety guards, emergency stop buttons, and failure to follow lockout/tagout procedures can all contribute to accidents.

Work-related amputations can have profound effects on a person's life and work. Some industries and machinery put workers at higher risk of injury than others. In New York, the most dangerous industries for amputation are manufacturing and retail, specifically jobs in meat production, sawmills, millwork, metal forging, grocery stores, and eating and drinking establishments.

Machinery and equipment often involved limb injuries at work

How work-related amputations happen is different depending on the industry, region, and environment. Industrial sectors like manufacturing, construction, agriculture, and warehousing tend to have higher rates of these incidents due to more frequent use of heavy and dangerous machinery.

Even with machinery meeting safety standards, the inherent risks stem from the machinery's powerful moving parts can catch clothing or body parts, leading to severe injuries or amputations. Common types of machinery and equipment involved in workplace amputations include:

  • Mechanical power presses
  • Buffers and grinders
  • Powered and non-powered conveyors
  • Printing presses
  • Saws, shears, slitters
  • Roll-forming and roll-bending machines
  • Food slicers and meat grinders
  • Woodworking machinery, saws, planers, and sanders, which are prevalent in construction and woodworking industries
  • Drills, lathes, and milling machines

Fingers are a common body part to be amputated in a work accident, as well as hands and toes.

Workplace amputation compensation

Employers have legal obligations to protect their employees from work-related injuries, including amputation hazards. However, even on worksites that prioritize safety, severe and fatal accidents can happen. Injured employees cannot usually sue their employers after an accident. Compensation is most frequently collected through benefits programs like workers’ compensation.

Victims of work-related amputations are generally entitled to certain benefits, which can include:

  • Workers' Compensation. These are designed to cover medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and a portion of lost wages due to the amputation injury.
  • Disability Benefits. Long-term disability insurance may provide compensation when a worker is permanently disabled and unable to return to work.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation. If a worker can no longer perform their previous job, they may be eligible for training in a new field.
  • Medical Prosthesis and Adaptations. Coverage for prosthetic limbs and necessary modifications to homes or vehicles may also be provided.
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Workers with sufficiently long work histories may qualify for SSDI if their limb loss is disabling. An amputated limb is often considered a disability, especially if it hinders a person's ability to work or carry out daily activities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Limb loss often fits this definition.

Remember: While employees can't usually sue an employer after an accident, if negligence contributed to workplace injuries, an employee may be eligible to file for benefits as well as a personal injury claim or lawsuit against a liable third-party like the company, a defective parts manufacturer, co-worker, supplier, subcontractor, etc.

Full compensation is key after a work-related amputation

Workers who suffer from work-related limb loss are frequently eligible for various forms of compensation, including workers' compensation and disability payments. Benefits provided aim to assist those affected in adapting to a post-injury lifestyle and to re-integrate into the workforce with dignity and support. Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its individual merits to determine the extent of the compensation available.

However, obtaining benefits and compensation they are entitled to is often difficult for injured workers. Companies and their insurance providers deny claims, blame victims, underestimate claim value, and reject funding for necessary medical procedures they see as frivolous. That’s not fair, and you don’t have to put up with it.

For over 90 years, the New York workers’ compensation lawyers at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP have stood up for injured workers and fought to get them the compensation and justice they deserve. An amputation can significantly reduce your ability to work and earn a living. You cannot afford to accept fewer benefits or a smaller settlement than you need.

Help for NYC workers with amputation injuries

If you were injured in a New York work accident resulting in an amputation, contact us for a free case evaluation. A member of our team can assess what happened, answer questions, and explain your legal options. Do not wait to call. A statute of limitations and strict benefits deadlines apply. We are ready to hear from you now.

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