The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on February 21 announced a "local emphasis program" aimed at reducing amputations at workplaces in Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska. The program applies to general industry workplaces where machinery and equipment likely to cause amputations are present.

The program will target OSHA's inspection resources on workplaces with machinery and equipment that cause, or are capable of causing, amputations and on workplaces where amputations have occurred. Workplaces where amputation injuries or fatalities related to machinery and equipment have occurred in the last five years will be subject to inspection. Establishments with ten or fewer employees are not included in the program.

"Operating machinery and equipment can be extremely dangerous, and compliance with OSHA's machine guarding and hazardous energy control standards needs to improve," said Charles E. Adkins, CIH, OSHA regional administrator in Kansas City. "OSHA's inspection history indicates that employee exposures to unguarded or inadequately guarded machinery and equipment occur in many workplaces. An associated hazard is failure to prevent machinery from becoming energized during servicing and maintenance activities.”

The agency's Web site offers detailed information about preventing machine guarding hazards at www.osha.gov/SLTC/machineguarding/index.html.