All new employees working in the oil and gas industry undergo an onboarding program to become familiar with the nature of their job and how their new company operates. A big part of that training is (or should be) health, safety and environment (HSE) training to reduce the risks of workplace-related incidents and injuries — with hand injuries being one of the top reasons for workers ending up in the hospital.
While some new employees are eager jump on the safety bandwagon, there are others who need to know more of the “why” around corporate HSE policies. And to be quite frank, the statistics show that we could all use a little extra motivation when it comes following safety policies and procedures.
To help your employees, both “green hats” and seasoned veterans helping them understand the “why” starts with awareness. You need to help your employees understand how and way hand injuries occur, where the hazards are, and what the risks are when they come on tour.
Hand and Finger Injury: Risks in the Oil and Gas Industry
If we’re talking about the most hazardous jobs in the world, the oil and gas industry is pretty high up on the list. Fire and explosions risks aside, workers in this industry face the risk of hand injuries on a regular basis. In fact, hand injuries make up nearly half of incidents in every sector of the oil and gas industry.
The top hand injuries in oil and gas include:
- Cuts, punctures, and lacerations due to sharp, spiked, or jagged edges of workplace equipment
- Fractures and amputations due to direct contact with equipment and falling objects
- Strains and sprains due to the misuse of tools or usage of the wrong tools
- Burns due to direct contact with chemicals or hot surfaces
- Skin irritation due to direct contact with chemicals
These hand injuries often occur because there is a gap in one or more of these factors:
- Proper risk assessment identifies hazards that may lead to cuts, punctures, chemical exposure, and other possible causes of hand injuries.
- Advanced technology and tools may reduce a worker’s exposure to various risks in oil and gas facilities, such as burns and amputations due to chemical exposure.
- Proper education on workplace safety lets workers know how to safely operate equipment and how to properly respond to any safety-related incidents in the workplace.
Employees may not have control over the first two factors — upper management often gets to decide how much to invest in risk assessment, technology, and tools. But the third heavily involves them.
It isn’t enough for employees to know what hand injuries are and what causes them. Employees also have to know how to avoid and prevent them.
Hand Safety Practices for Reduced Workplace Incidents
Ringers Gloves previously shared a five-step guide to the improvement of hand safety in the workplace. The guide breaks down the things that employers have to do to reduce risks and improve safety in oil and gas facilities. We have also shared hand safety tips regarding injury trends, training programs, housekeeping, equipment upgrades, supervisor education, and safe work practices.
Hand safety for new employees is an entirely different matter, though. In addition to a deeper awareness of the risks and causes of hand injuries in oil and gas facilities, they need to know the different ways to prevent injuries from occurring in the workplace:
1. Avoid distractions.
The easiest way to stay safe in any type of oil and gas facility is to avoid distractions. You can help your employees do this by encourage them to stay alert and focused throughout any task they take on — not only when just when they’re getting started. This could mean avoiding talkative workers, tuning out office noise, and performing occasional personal awareness assessments during the job.
2. Look out for safety signs and equipment guards.
Safety signs and equipment guards are there for a reason. Remind new employees to be mindful of these signs and guards especially when they are still trying to adjust to the workplace. Also, tell them not to remove or reposition machine and power tool guards as these keep people away from injuries, such as punctures and lacerations.
3. Use the right tool for the job.
Before a new employee start doing actual work, the on-boarding team must make sure they are aware of the right tools and equipment to use for specific operations — and of how to properly use that equipment and machinery. Encourage new employees to ask for help or to seek clarifications about tools and equipment to avoid any incidents that might send them to the emergency room.
4. Inspect tools and equipment before use.
Regardless of how well-maintained your facilities are, advise new employees to make a habit of running a visual check of the tools and equipment that they will use. Make sure that all tools and equipment are working properly before starting any task.
*NOTE: Make sure your new employees can identify the safety features on tools and equipment and that they know how to operate these features.
5. Be observant when near machinery.
No matter how safe a machine looks, the operator should never come too close to it. Specifically, workers should not put their hands near the moving parts of power tools and equipment to avoid cuts, lacerations, or even amputations. Also, remind new employees to switch off any machinery and follow proper Lockout/Tagout procedures before attempting to replace, repair, or clean parts.
6. Wear personal protective equipment.
Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for your new employees. These are safely designed and constructed pieces of clothing that minimize exposure to workplace hazards. Different types of PPE include vests, coveralls, full body suits, safety glasses, safety shoes, earplugs, hardhats, respirators and of course gloves.
On a related note, discourage employees from wearing jewelry and loose articles of clothing that might get caught in moving objects, making this part of your policies when appropriate.
7. Always glove up.
Many hand injuries occur because the worker is not wearing proper gloves. For this reason, remind new employees to use gloves when their task requires that they do. Moreover, they need to make sure they are wearing the right type of gloves for the job.
The right gloves depend on what the job calls for — chemical protection, cut and laceration protection, thermal protection, or general handling. Regardless of what the gloves are for, though, employers must provide durable and well-fitted gloves for the maximum safety and comfort of the employees.
Ringers Gloves provides high-quality work gloves for industrial businesses that are looking for sturdy and comfortable hand protection equipment. Get in touch with us, today, for a free consultation, quotation, or product samples.