The oil and gas industry is a major employer in Oklahoma, and safety experts have identified it as one of the riskiest for workers. With a fatality rate eight times above the national workplace average, the oil and gas industry places workers in difficult environments filled with chemical hazards and heavy machinery. Aside from fatal accidents, hand injuries have emerged as a leading type of workplace injury in this industry, and they come with high costs.
The need of workers to grip heavy and vibrating pipes and equipment places stress on their hands. Oil and other drilling liquids also make objects slippery, which requires workers to use a tighter grip. This increases hand strain and the possibility of slipping. The five major categories of hand injuries include crushes, cuts, burns, chemical exposure, and repetitive use.
Costs attributed to hand injuries add up quickly. For example, a man who lost part of his thumb missed 14 days of work before being fit for light duty. He did not return to normal work duties until 94 days had passed. During this time, direct costs of the injury were $24,000, and indirect costs to the employer were $120,000 because of training a replacement, repairs, accident investigation and other delays.
Protective gloves have been developed that could alleviate these workplace injuries in the oil and gas industry. When an injury does occur, the worker may be eligible to file a claim for benefits under the employer's workers' compensation insurance program. Attorneys who have experience with these matters can often guide injured workers through the process.