Farm accidents are two and a half times more likely to end in amputation than any other injury, according to the National Agricultural Safety Database, and losing a limb is a risk farm face every day. Amputees can experience both medical and psychological problems as a result of an amputation, including infections, depression, diseases of the nervous system and phantom limb pain.
Did you Know?
- 11 percent of all farm accidents involve amputations.
- More than one in every 10 will suffer an amputation on the job.
- The cost of hospitalization for an arm or leg loss ranges from $500 to $1,000 per day.
- The cost of a basic artificial limb ranges from $15,000 – $20,000.
Causes of Amputation
Many amputations result from working with farm machinery that lacks adequate safety features or from chemical and electrical injuries. Causes include:
- entanglement−clothes, shoe strings, gloves, long hair or limbs can be caught in moving machinery parts.
- entrapment−augers and combine heads without guards can trap and pull you into the machine.
- crushing−heavy machinery that falls against or pins you can cause internal bleeding in limbs that may later require amputation.
- infection−dirty machinery that wounds you can cause infections that result in amputation.
- contact with live electrical wires and chemical substances can injure you and result in amputation.
Protecting Yourself from Amputation Risks
The United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration publishes extensive safety directives to avoid amputation on the job. This included:
- A list of what types of mechanical components are hazardous—for example, a point of operation; power-transmission points; other moving parts.
- A list of what types of mechanical motions are hazardous—for example, rotating; back-and-forth; straight, continuous; cutting; punching; shearing; bending; slicing; pinch points.
- A list of hazardous activities involving non-moving machines—for example: set up such as threading and preparation; clearing jams; making adjustments; cleaning; lubricating; maintaining; regular operation.
- Basic safeguarding methods—for example, guards that provide physical barriers and devices that interrupt the machine’s operating cycle.
- Types of guards and devices—for example, fixed, adjustable, self-adjusting and interlocking guards; pullback, restraint, presence-sensing, pressure sensitive, two-hand control/tip, and gate devices.
- Guarding by feeding methods—for example: using distance to keep hazardous parts away from you; using automatic/semi-automatic feeding and ejection methods to protect yourself.
- Identifying hazards for specific types of machinery—for example, power presses; power press brakes; conveyors; presses; forming and bending machines; shearers; slicers; grinders; saws; milling machines; slitters.
Compensation is Available
No matter how many safety precautions you take, however, you need to remember that farming is a highly dangerous occupation. Equipment is not designed safely, and farm work exposes you to daily risks of amputation. Consequently, if you’re injured on the farm, you are not at fault and you deserve compensation!
If you are an injured farm worker, if one of your family members has lost a limb while working on a farm, or if you have lost wages due to losing a limb, you may be entitled to compensation—including payments over and above Worker’s Compensation.
Manufacturers who design and distribute unsafe machinery that places you at risk of amputation should pay you for the losses you suffer due to using their products. You deserve compensation.
For a free and totally confidential consultation, contact the Farm Injury Resource Center.