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Catastrophic injuries: Work-related amputations

Workers nationwide, including Tennessee, risk losing body parts each year. In unsafe work environments, unprotected working parts of equipment and machines cause compression or crushing injuries. Hands, feet, fingers and other body parts can also be struck by or caught between objects. The most common amputations are reported to be fingertips.

As a part of employers' responsibility to provide safe workplaces, safeguards must be installed to prevent contact with moving parts. Among others, potential amputation hazards include power presses, conveyors, printing presses, meat grinders, food slicers, band saws, table and portable saws, grinders, and shears. Safeguards must be secure, and bypassing or tampering with the guards must not be allowed. Workers must receive adequate safety training related to the dangers of avoiding safety devices and taking short cuts that could lead to catastrophic injuries.

Devices can be installed along with safeguards to deactivate machines when workers' hands are near the operational parts of machines. Workers who do repairs, maintenance or cleaning of equipment can be protected by lockout/tagout systems to de-energize equipment while these tasks are happening. Unexpected activation during repairs or maintenance can cause amputations and even death.

When Tennessee workers suffer catastrophic injuries, like amputations that cause permanent disabilities, they can rely on the state-regulated workers' compensation insurance program to provide financial assistance. An experienced attorney can help amputation victims to deal with the benefits claims process. Compensation will cover medical expenses and lost wages, along with additional benefits for those whose amputations prevent them from returning to previous jobs. This could include vocational training to equip a worker with new skills and new income options.

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