Hazard Overview

Hazard Overview

What is an amputation?

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)]

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?

The presentations on lockout/tagout, machinery and machine guarding 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.

Additional resource information can be found on the A-Z topics pages for amputations special emphasis programabrasive wheels, lockout/tagout, machine guarding, and hand and portable powered tools. The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.

In addition, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC). 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 consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.




Which standards apply?

OSH has adopted the following standards in North Carolina that are applicable to the reporting and prevention of amputations in the workplace:

General Industry

Maritime - Shipyard Employment

Maritime - Marine Terminals




Learn More

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Where can I learn more?

If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to or by calling 919-707-7876.