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The Risk of Hand Injuries in the Oil and Gas Industry

Jobs in the gas and oil industry are some of the most hazardous in the world. North Carolina residents may not realize that the industry’s death rate is almost eight times that of the national average for workplaces. Additionally, injuries are common throughout the industry, such as at drilling sites and in refining and transportation environments, and some of these injuries are to workers’ hands.

Gas and oil industry workers interact with chains, heavy equipment, tools and pipes every day. Oil and byproducts can cover their hands, making their grip slippery and rendering their tasks more difficult to complete safely. The result is that workers have to use 30 to 40 percent more effort to keep their grip from slipping, making injuries inevitable and conditions such as carpal tunnel relatively common. Between 2009 and 2013, 20 percent of all injuries in the industry were to fingers, hands and wrists. There are a few categories in which these injuries are divided, including chemical exposure, cuts, flash fires, impacts, and repetitive use.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration advises employers and workers to ensure that the appropriate gloves are used to prevent on-the-job injuries to hands. Along with protection, the gloves should deliver comfort and performance to be effective. Some gloves are specifically designed for protection against cuts, whereas others are made for protection against fire and impacts. However, advances and technologies have allowed for the development of gloves that meet every requirement for comfort, performance, and protection.

North Carolina employees who suffer a hand injury while they are working may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits, which could include the furnishing of medical care as well as a portion of lost wages. Many injured workers obtain the assistance of an attorney when preparing and filing the required claim.