Drilling sites, whether geotechnical, geothermal, or water well drilling, pose many hazards to the onsite crew.
Lost-time injuries are costly to both the employee and the employer, and hand and finger injuries top the list of LTIs in any division of the drilling industry. Being careless, nonchalant, or uneducated about the things that could go wrong on site isn’t isolated to new apprentices. Veteran crew members can be reckless or inattentive and get hurt, too.
Here are some startling statistics from the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC):
- 70% of hand injuries are due to inadequate hand protection
- 20% of disabling workplace injuries affect the hands
- An average lost-time hand puncture wound leads to lost productivity, wages, and care to the tune of $53,000
When gloves fit poorly and make it harder to perform the job, workers may be tempted to remove the gloves “for just second.” But it’s in this “second” that injuries can occur. Depending on the work site, injuries can include cuts and scrapes, burns from friction or overheating of drill rods and casings, crushing injuries, or severed fingers or whole hands.
There are a number of ways to protect your crew and help them protect themselves.
- Train the crew in correct hand placement and provide strong, repeated reinforcement of safety guidelines. It’s up to the crew chief to call out dangerous behavior and correct it immediately and decisively.
- Provide gloves that fit correctly and are appropriate for the drilling conditions. Some materials get brittle in cold weather, some aren’t puncture-resistant. The proper PPE for the job can make all the difference when it comes to hand injuries.
- Check equipment and tools at the beginning of every shift to ensure they are working properly and identify and test safety features on a regular basis.
- Stay alert and focused on proper hand placement at all times, whether just starting a job or starting the third hour. It’s imperative to keep hands and fingers away from the moving parts and sharp edges of drilling equipment.
- Don’t wear loose clothing, rings, or other jewelry that could pose a risk of getting caught on moving parts.
It is the responsibility of every crew member to follow proper safety training and PPE guidelines for each job. Teaching your drillers and helpers to remain vigilant on site, ensuring proper education and enforcement of procedures, and leading by example and wearing the proper hand protection can cut down on LTIs and ensure the safety of your most valuable resource: your team.