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The importance of protecting your hands from oil exposure

Supplier: Ansell Industrial Healthcare
04 June, 2014

While the common perception is 'a bit of grease never hurt anyone', unfortunately the opposite can often be true.

It may be surprising, but grease and oily products that are commonly encountered in mining sites can cause a range of health complications from contact dermatitis at the milder end of symptoms to a variety of cancers in extreme cases.

Engineering oil and the oily liquids used in machine maintenance aren't harmless. They are chemicals, something that it is easy to forget when we just want to get the job done, and the chemical reaction they cause can harm workers the same as any other chemical can.

An added risk of oil exposure can be that a lack of grip when trying to adjust greasy machinery, can cause injuries when hands slip. Protective and ergonomic equipment for hands considerably reduces all these risks.

Getting to grips with work

When workers are focused on getting the job done, it can be tempting to see gloves as an impediment to completing the task. Despite the regulations in many sites making it compulsory for gloves to be worn, many workers decide to take them off, thinking that this will improve their dexterity and speed.1

However, oil, dust and small, sharp pieces of debris can be a nasty combination that can coat the surfaces exposed skin is trying to grip. Getting a firm hold on a slippery surface can be quite a challenge in itself, but when there are other materials that can dig into the hands and make one's grip less sure, it can protract the time taken to complete a job and increase its difficulty2.

By foregoing the protection of gloves, workers risk being exposed to injuries3 that will delay progress in the longer term as well4.

Oil's toxic cocktail

We often don't realise that oil is a chemical, and causes damage to workers just like any other chemical does. When our skin comes into contact with oil, we are susceptible to dermatitis and other skin conditions that make the use of our hands more difficult and less precise5.

Furthermore, oil is also a known carcinogen6 and so carries with exposure the risk of developing cancers.

Oil is a combination of many substances, including powerful neurotoxins which can cause a range of symptoms including nausea, headache, euphoria and dizziness. These symptoms are signs that the nervous system of those exposed to oil is being damaged7.

Protection from oil is important for maintaining health in the short term, so that productivity in an organisation can continue smoothly, but also so that years in the future workers' health will still be there. While nothing replaces vigilance and caution around dangerous machinery and substances, protective equipment can reduce the risks being taken. Oil is used heavily in the majority of mining sites, and wearing gloves is the best way to keep one's hands free of it.

In good hands

Ansell's range of hand protection solutions have been designed to rigorous specifications to help with the unique needs of mining. Decades of experience in glove design and manufacture for a variety of purposes globally have given them insight into what gloves need to do.

Their Hyflex range of protective gloves will not only keep skin safe from the dangers associated with oil and other materials, but will also help improve productivity through extra grip and an ergonomic design.

These gloves are a unique balance of superior comfort and world class protection. The HyFlex 11-927 range features a new polymer blend, offering oil repellence without compromising flexibility or tactility, thus ensuring secure handling in all conditions8. Their revolutionary all-in-one grip also provides cut resistance to keep users as protected as possible9.

Because we only get one set of hands in our lifetime, it is important to care for them. Harsh chemicals, like the ones found in oil compounds, can be easily absorbed into our bodies when they come into contact with our skin and can cause discomfort and serious illness.

By choosing to wear protective gloves that also allow for sensitive dexterity of the fingers, workers at risk of oil contamination can safely continue their tasks without compromising either their health or the high standards of their work.

References

[1] Safe Work Australia, "Personal Protective Equipment"; http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/model-whs-laws/faqs/pages/faqppe

[2] Ansell, "Mining, Oil & Gas Gloves"; http://ppe.ansell.com.au/gloves/mining

[3] Safe Work Australia, "Mining", 2012; http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/ Documents/432/Mining-Fact-Sheet-2011-12.pdf

[4] Ansell, "Mining, Oil & Gas Gloves"; http://ppe.ansell.com.au/gloves/mining

[5] National Library of Medicine, "Crude Oil", 2021; http://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/text_version/chemicals.php?id=73

[6] O'Hanlan, Larry, "How Crude Oil Can Harm You", June 11 201, Discovery; http://news.discovery.com/human/health/crude-oil-harms-humans.htm

[7] ibid.

[8] Ansell, "HyFlex 11-927"

[9] Ansell, "C32993"

Ansell Ripel