An amputation is defined in the reporting and recording standards as “the traumatic loss of a limb or other external body part. Amputations include a part, such as a limb or appendage, that has been severed, cut off, amputated (either completely or partially); fingertip amputations with or without bone loss; medical amputations resulting from irreparable damage; amputations of body parts that have since been reattached.”

This definition does not include avulsions (injuries due to tearing away of soft tissue, e.g., eyelids), enucleations (removal of one or both eyes), deglovings (tearing away of skin from the underlying tissue), scalpings, severed ears, or broken or chipped teeth. [See 29 CFR 1904.39(b)(11)]


Tab/Accordion Items

What types of machine components present amputation hazards?

  • Point of operation where a machine performs work on material.

  • Power-transmission apparatus such as flywheels, pulleys, belts, chains, spindles and gears.

  • Other moving components that move during machine operation.

What kinds of mechanical motion can cause amputations?

In-running nip points (“pinch points”) where either two parts move together or at least one moves in a rotary or circular fashion is one kind of mechanical motion that can lead to the loss of a finger or worse. Other common types of mechanical motion that can result in amputations are:

  • Rotating - circular movement of parts.

  • Reciprocating - back-and-forth or up-and-down motion.

  • Transversing - movement in a straight, continuous line.

  • Cutting - including boring and drilling actions.

  • Punching - movement of a slide to stamp or blank material.

  • Shearing - movement of a powered slide or knife during metal trimming or shearing.

  • Bending - movement of a powered slide to draw or form metal or other materials.


What can I do to protect myself?

Employees can take several steps towards protecting themselves against loss of part or all of a finger or other extremity. Never wear loose clothing when working around equipment with in-running nip points that cannot be guarded. Do not operate equipment from which guarding has been removed and do not remove or attempt to bypass safeguards installed by the manufacturer. Never attempt to remove impeded material from the point of operation of a machine until the power has been shut off and remaining energy sources effectively isolated or eliminated.

Employers have a responsibility to conduct a hazard assessment and identify potential machine components and operations that place employees at risk of an amputation injury. In addition, they are responsible to provide employees with the necessary training and implement work practices and administrative controls that will prevent or control amputation hazards.

What resources are available to assist employers?

Safety and Health Programs

This lockout/tagout program can be customized to fit workplace conditions and equipment.

Training and Outreach Services

The presentations on lockout/tagout, machinery and machine guarding, hand tools (construction) and struck by/caught between can be used to assist employers to train their employees about machine guarding and related hazards. The presentations should be customized to suit the workplace hazards and conditions. Pre-recorded webinars on lockout/tagout and machinery and machine guarding can be viewed at any time.

In addition, the education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request. 

Lastly, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos (including streaming video services) and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC).

Safety and Health Topics

Additional resource information can be found on the safety and health topic pages for amputations special emphasis programabrasive wheels, lockout/tagout, machine guarding, and hand and portable powered tools

Consultation Services

The consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.


Which standards apply?

OSH has adopted the following standards which are applicable to amputations in North Carolina. Note: Please also check the standards information and activity webpage to see if there has been any recent or upcoming regulatory activity on this topic. 

General Industry

Maritime - Shipyard Employment

Maritime - Marine Terminals



Other Applicable Standards

The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.

Where can I learn more?

Compliance Documents

Industry Guides

Technical Assistance

Inquiries about workplace safety and health requirements can be submitted to Ask OSH through the online form, by email to, or by phone at 919-707-7876.