Aera’s requirement that every oilfield task include special protective hand-wear has produced a 50 percent drop in hand injuries.
At first, contractor Miles Eddington was skeptical when Aera required that oilfield workers wear special gloves for all tasks.
Eddington, a behavior-based safety manager for Golden State Drilling, knows most oilfield injuries involve hands. His employer already supplied its field crews with newly developed impact resistant gloves. In Eddington’s eyes, however, emphasizing behavioral change, rather than protective hand-wear, would be more effective for hand safety.
But nearly a year after Aera mandated gloves as personal protective equipment (PPE), Eddington is a believer.
“The turning point came earlier this year when we had an incident on a rig where the individual was wearing the new impact resistant gloves,” said Eddington. “If he hadn’t been wearing them, he would have sustained a serious injury.”
Eddington was further swayed of mandate’s worth by employee reaction at Golden State Drilling, which provides drilling services for Aera rigs. “I kept getting feedback that the gloves were a benefit,” he said.
That’s exactly what Robert Dye, Aera health and safety advisor, wants to hear. Since 2009, he and behavior-based safety leaders from Aera and its contractors have worked through the Hands On Safety Team (HOST) to analyze analyzed common causes of hand injuries and ways to prevent them.
Their efforts produced a 52 percent drop in recordable hand injuries in 2010. Still, the incidence of hand injury rates plateaued over the next few years. “We weren’t where we wanted to be,” Dye said.
The group began experimenting with new types of gloves for oil field use. In 2012, HOST found a new protective hand-wear called impact resistant gloves. These are designed to help protect against common pinch and crush points, which account for most hand injuries. They’re constructed with rubber padding to protect the backs of fingers and hands.
“While PPE is the last line of defense and does not prevent an accident, we thought this type of glove could make the difference if things did go wrong,” Dye said.
HOST worked with manufacturers to improve the design of the impact resistant gloves. In late 2014, Aera’s Joe Bariffi and Lucas Paugh developed a matrix to help people identify the right glove for the task. The group’s recommendation: Wherever a hard hat is required, so too are the correct gloves.
Aera’s leadership and the health and safety team agreed. By December, the new directive had been announced and gloves were being distributed in the field.
The requirement has produced dramatic reductions in hand injuries. Aera already had recorded a 40 percent drop in hand injuries in 2014 after employing the “stop and clear” and “stop and load” safety programs for rig and crane operations. But since the glove mandate in December 2014, hand injuries have fallen another 50 percent.
“This was a significant change toward protecting our hands,” said Dye. “They are the most important tool we will ever use, and we will continue find ways to help people keep their hands out of harm’s way.”
The mandatory use of gloves, such as the impact resistant gloves shown, has significantly reduced hand injuries.