This toolbox talk will focus on accidental amputations and the process to follow once the incident occurs. Construction workers can suffer serious and debilitating injuries like amputations, which can result from traumatic accidents, such as severe burns or crush injuries. These types of injuries account for around 45% of all amputations, leaving workers with permanent changes to their bodies and a difficult road to recovery.
In case of witnessing an amputation, it is important to take immediate action:
- Call emergency services.
- If there is bleeding, wash your hands and put on disposable gloves if available. If gloves are not available, use clean cloth, plastic bags or any clean material to avoid direct contact with the wound.
- Have the injured person lie down and elevate the site that is bleeding.
- Remove any visible objects in the wound that are easy to remove and cut clothing from around the wound.
- Apply steady direct pressure for a full 15 minutes. If the bleeding does not slow or stop, continue direct pressure while getting help. If there is an object in the wound, apply pressure around it and not directly over it.
- Check and treat for shock. Signs of physiologic shock include passing out, feeling very dizzy or light-headed, feeling very weak, being less alert, confused, restless or fearful.
- Recover the amputated body part if possible and transport it to the hospital with the injured person. If the part cannot be found, transport the injured person to the hospital and bring the amputated part when it is found.
- Care for the completely amputated body part by gently rinsing off dirt and debris with clean water if possible, wrapping it in a dry, sterile gauze or clean cloth, and putting it in a plastic bag or waterproof container on ice.
- Care for the part of the body where the amputation happened by stopping the bleeding, elevating the injured area, and covering it with a sterile dressing or clean cloth.
- Care for a partially amputated body part by elevating the injured area, covering it with a sterile dressing or clean cloth, and gently splinting the injured area to prevent movement or further damage.
In some cases amputated parts can be successfully reattached. The success of the reattachment depends on:
- What body part was amputated.
- The condition of the amputated part.
- The time since the amputation and receiving medical care.
- The general health of the injured person.
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