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Worker and injury characteristics of amputation claims

Author / Coordinator: Brian Zaidman, Senior Research Analyst Research and Statistics
Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry
March 2007

The mention of amputation conjures images of people losing significant parts of their extremities. Fortunately, these are very rare occurrences. Most amputation claims involve the worker losing all or part of a finger. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, about 10,000 occupational amputations occur nationally each year. Most amputations occur to workers who operate and maintain machinery.

This article describes the characteristics of the injured workers who receive amputations, their jobs, the accident events and the tools, objects or machinery involved. The statistics are based on analysis of all amputation indemnity claims occurring during 1999 and 2000. There were 150 amputation claims in 1999, and 145 claims in 2000.

Analysis of the claims showed:

Amputation claimants were more likely to be male. Eighty-seven percent of the claimants were male, compared to 66 percent males among all indemnity claimants in 1999 and 2000.

The average age of the amputation claimants was 39.1 years, slightly younger than the average for all claimants, 39.8 years, and the average for male claimants only, 39.3 years.

Amputations are more likely to occur within the worker’s first year on the job. Forty-eight percent of the amputation claims occurred during the first year, and 22 percent occurred during the initial three months of job tenure. In contrast, for all indemnity claims, only 35 percent occurred during the first year and only 16 percent occurred during the first three months of job tenure.

Manufacturing and construction account for two-thirds of the amputation claims. The manufacture of industrial equipment and machinery, fabricated metal products and food products accounted for 29 percent of the claims.

The occupations of the amputation claimants were concentrated among operators (38 percent), crafts (28 percent) and laborers (17 percent). The detailed occupation code with the highest number of amputations was “unspecified machine operators,” with 43 amputations (15 percent).

Nearly all the amputations were to the finger or thumb (94) percent). Three percent involved a hand or an arm, and three percent involved a leg or foot.

The injured workers were caught in or compressed by equipment or objects in 83 percent of the accidents with reported information. (See Figure 1,below) Being caught in running equipment or machinery was the most common of these types of events. Another 13 percent involved the worker being struck by an object.

• Machinery was the accident source of 72 percent of the claims with reported information. (See Figure 2, below) The most commonly identified type of machinery was sawing machinery, followed by presses and food and beverage processing machinery. Parts and materials accounted for another 9 percent of the claims, followed by tools and equipment and vehicles.


Figure 1

Most common events producing amputations, 1999 and 2000

Event type Percentage [1]

Struck against moving object 3.9%

Struck by object 12.5%
         - by falling object 3.4
         - by or slammed in swinging door or gate 3.0
         - by slipping handheld object 2.6
Caught or compressed by equipment or objects 83.3%
          - unspecified objects 3.4
          - running equipment of machinery 53.6
          - rolling, sliding or shifting objects 11.2
          - equipment or objects, n.e.c. [2] 15.0

1. Percentages based on number of claims with reported events. Injury descriptions for 21 percent of claims were missing event information.
2. Not classified elsewhere.
Source: Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry workers’ compensation database.


Figure 2

Most common sources of amputation injuries, 1999 and 2000

Source Percentage [1]

Machinery 72.1%        
         - material handling machinery 2.4
         - Metal, woodworking, special material machinery 39.4
                 bending, rolling, shaping 4.0
                 boring, drilling, planing, milling 2.4
                 presses 11.6
                 stationary saws 15.1
         - Special process machinery 9.6
         - specialized food and beverage processors 7.6
         - Machinery, n.e.c. 5.2
                Doors 2.8%
                Handtools – powered and nonpowered 5.6%
                Highway vehicles 2.8%

1. Percentages based on number of claims with reported events. Injury descriptions for 15 percent of claims were missing source information.
2. Not classified elsewhere.

Source: Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry workers’ compensation database.