The bubbling crude needs more to get it out of the ground than a shotgun these days. (If you don’t get this reference, you obviously didn’t watch The Beverly Hillbillies as a kid.) Heavy equipment and worker injuries seem to go hand in hand (pardon the pun). Hand injuries make up nearly 50% of incidents in the oil & gas industry. More than any other body part, injured hands and fingers create loss from worker’s compensation claims, work days lost, and related costs.
So how do you keep that money in the company, and the workers as safe as they can be? One way is to improve the hand protection guidelines in the company. This means really taking a look at the work requirements – How can the workers complete their tasks with the least amount of exposure possible?
Certainly part of this equation includes using better personal protective equipment. No matter how hard you break down a worker’s responsibilities, there’s simply no way to remove all possible injury. PPE has to be part of that solution, but it isn’t the whole answer. The primary objective is to eliminate as many situations where a hand can become pinched or banged.
Oil and gas production isn’t the kind of work where a manicure lasts long. But since it’s got to be rare for a derrick hand, floor hand, driller, tool pusher, or production operator to get a manicure, that isn’t really a problem. What is a problem is poor glove selection. Gloves need to be work-specific. Our customers tell us one of the best types of gloves for these types of workers are mechanic-style safety gloves. Models like the Black Stallion ShokBlok Gloves 98SB provide a snug fit and have anti-vibration qualities and impact protection on the knuckles.
Gone are the days of floppy general purpose leather and cotton gloves for the demanding work performed on oil rigs and other hazardous locations. Jobs that have fewer bang and crush hazards but still require good grip can really benefit from gloves like the nitrile-coated MaxiFlex 34-874 gloves. Or for a few cents more, their close cousin, the MaxiFlex Endurance 34-844 gloves, provide even greater abrasion-resistance. Either way, these gloves provide as much or more puncture protection than the old gloves from the 50s while providing vastly greater durability and incredible grip, especially for items with an oily surface.
While hand injuries aren’t ever going away for hard-working folks in the oil & gas industry, some injuries can be avoided or minimized by looking closely at work strategies that remove hands from the danger zones.