As the number of oil and gas industry workers has grown in recent years to more than 400,000, hand injuries are on the rise, too. Hand and finger injuries lead the oil and gas industry’s recordable incidence rates every year. Data from IADC’s 2009 Incident Statistics Program (ISP) indicate that 34% of recordable incidents and 20% of lost-time incidents fall in this category.
According to the latest data from the National Safety Council, the average cost of a single hand injury is $21,918 (indemnity + medical). It’s seeing these kinds of statistics that has prompted the oil and gas industry to place more emphasis on hand safety and protection. Major oil and gas drilling companies are already adopting hand protection guidelines in an effort to reduce hand injuries.
One of these hand protection efforts is the industry’s adoption of the Global Glove Guideline for oil and gas workers. These guidelines, such as the banning of cotton gloves as adequate protection, are used to ensure PPE meets industry standards.
According to these guidelines, dotted and non-dotted cotton gloves are not acceptable for medium to heavy-duty work on site. This would include applications such hand tool use, pipe handling, and valve operation. Another glove requirement is Thermo Plastic Resin (TPR) impact protection to the hand and full length of the fingers (pinch point), especially on the rig floor. TPR is like a rubber molded exoskeleton that absorbs blunt force impacts as well as slow impacts.
Gloves should also have a high-visibility palm and dorsal areas of the hands, and ideally be ANSI 107-2010 compliant. High-visibility colors and reflective materials are crucial in low light areas to help the wearer be seen, and to avoid blending in with the environment.
Cut and abrasion resistance is another desired glove feature, according to the Global Glove Guidelines, which will provide protection when handling sharp edges or other protruding hazards. Typically, a reinforced palm and finger area is needed, and some gloves may meet ASTM cut level standards.
Adequate grip, good dexterity, and anti-fatigue properties are also part of these new guidelines. This is particularly helpful in the slick conditions the oil and gas industry has present. Working around drilling fluids, oil, diesel, grease, and dirt is part of the job.
Finally, protection from hot/cold temperature extremes is sometimes needed. This would include insulation and waterproof/water-resistant gloves.
Improved designs in protective gloves have further boosted their use on drilling rigs. Most impact gloves provide all of the requirements listed in the Global Glove Guidelines. More hand injuries are being prevented as more oil and gas companies begin making a move towards using these gloves. In this case, the benefits highly outweigh the cost.