Amputations at Work

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently fined Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc. $1.76 million following an inspection of its Arcadia facility last year.  Among the over 1,000 work-related injuries suffered by the Wisconsin-based company’s employees over a three-and-a-half year period, more than 100 were amputations caused by the company’s woodworking machinery.  The OSHA inspection was triggered after one employee lost three fingers while operating a woodworking machine without the required safety mechanisms.  OSHA investigators identified 12 willful violations, 12 repeated violations, and 14 serious safety violations, finding that the company failed to take the required steps to protect its employees from moving machine parts.
Amputations are among the most severe and debilitating work-related injuries.  Every year, thousands of employees lose hands, feet, and other body parts at work, most often as a result of unguarded or inadequately guarded machinery and equipment.  Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe workplaces for their employees, and OSHA has extensive regulations requiring safeguards on machinery, tools, and equipment.
In the context of workers’ compensation claims, in Massachusetts an employee may be entitled to double compensation if he or she is injured as a result of an OSHA violation.  For more information, visit OSHA’s website or contact