The Oil Boom and Hand Injuries

The Oil Boom and Hand Injuries

The oil boom in the Permian Basin doesn't just bring oil. In recent years, hand injuries, caused by heavy equipment in the oil field have also increased.
Oilfield worker, Luis Gamboa was working at a pumping unit when the unexpected happened.

In just seconds a large nail fell close to his hand, crushing his fingers.

“When I least expected it a nail fell,” Gamboa said. “It was a big nail and I was able get my hand out of the way a little bit but it hit me.”

He suddenly looked down at his hand and the blood was pouring out.

“The glove was white and suddenly in less than a minute it got all red, red from the blood,” Gamboa said. “Then when I took it off the blood came squirting out.”

It was second of panic, but Gamboa said he tried to be relaxed. His co-workers, on the other hand, began to pace back and forward with fear.

“I was scared that I would take off my glove and lose my fingers,” he said.

But he is not the only one. The oil boom in the Permian Basin doesn’t just bring oil. In recent years, hand injuries, caused by heavy equipment in the oil field have also increased.

“There is a lot of people that are missing tips of fingers and that sort of thing,” said Dr. Gerald L. Farber, an orthopedic hand surgeon at Medical Center Hospital.

He sees a variety of oilfield related injuries and said they vary on severity.

“A lot of fractures, several finger amputations but probably mostly crush injuries and finger tips injuries,” Dr. Farber said.

The injuries usually take several months to heal because even if the bone heals, the scar tissues take longer to recover.

“A lot of times it takes three to six months before your hand function is going to be reasonable,” Dr. Farber said.

In Gamboa’s case, his hand continues to hurt even after almost two months of the accident.

And although Gamboa did not lose any of his fingers, Dr. Farber said it’s very common to see workers lose part of a finger or even an entire hand.

“Ones where the finger is pretty much off and you just have to complete the amputation and dress it up,” Dr. Farber said.

The healing process usually involves an extensive amount of therapy, something Gamboa is doing at least three times a week.

“I don't wish this upon anybody,” Gamboa said. “It was very painful.”


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