Accidents at work are not uncommon in the UK and can lead to severe, lifelong, disabling injury, including amputation, whether caused directly in the accident (traumatic amputation) or indirectly as a later complication of the original injury.
Losing a limb is always life-changing, affecting mobility and independence, and reducing earning capacity by limiting the amputee’s ability to return to work. An employee who has suffered an amputation from a workplace accident may be able to recover compensation where the accident and injury were caused by the employer’s failure to provide safe working conditions and should have been avoided.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 says that employers have a duty of care towards their employees and are responsible for putting proper precautions in place to ensure that the workplace is safe for all employees. All equipment should be properly maintained, all employees should receive training and supervision on the proper and safe use of machinery and protective guards should be installed, where necessary, to prevent injuries.
Common accidents at work which may result in amputation
- Severing by machinery - Working with machinery, tools or sharp objects poses an obvious and significant risk to workers across a broad range of industries, including agriculture, engineering, construction and woodworking industries. Amputations are most common when workers operate unguarded or inadequately safeguarded machinery, mechanical equipment and tools.
- Crush injuries - Crush injuries can be caused by a heavy item falling directly onto a part of the body or when part of the body becomes trapped in machinery. Faulty equipment or lack of training in operating equipment is often the cause of a crushing injury accident.
- Being struck by an object - Workplaces are full of objects which pose a risk to employees, such as falling construction material on a building site, pallets in a warehouse or moving objects or vehicles such as forklift trucks. Regular inspections and effective management are essential to prevent accidents from occurring.
- Electrocution - High voltage electric shock from unsafe working conditions can lead to impaired blood circulation, gangrene and amputation.
- Laboratory accidents and explosions - Unsafe handling of materials can also result in burns, restricting blood flow to the limb or causing serious infection and consequent limb loss.