An emergency room physician in Texas who served in Iraq as a U.S. Army major says the work he does in peacetime prepared him for war. He deals with countless injuries -- some of which follow car crashes and accidents on construction sites. However, he says that regardless of whether the oil industry is booming or in a downturn, crush injuries among oil field workers are always prevalent.
If you work on the oilfields, he says you might significantly lessen your chances of harm if you try recognize the potential risks ahead of time. This could help you to better assess any risks and use common sense whenever you encounter dangerous situations.
A trauma outreach coordinator says one of the more common types of injuries suffered in the oil and gas industry is crush injuries. These may not always break bones, but the pressure they can put on soft tissue can have severe consequences. Here are some facts about compression injuries:
- Compression without fractures --When any part of your body is put under severe pressure, muscles will break down and release myoglobin. These molecules then block the kidney tubules and disrupt circulation. An imbalance will follow because potassium will leak out of your body, and without proper treatment, your kidneys might fail. A crush injury can also lead to amputation, which might follow compartment syndrome. This occurs when the skin cannot stretch any further, causing internal swelling when there is no opening. Swelling can kill extremities when it constricts nerves and blood vessels.
- Crushed or fractured bones -- An orthopedic surgeon says oil field workers often suffer injuries to their hands and upper extremities. Pipes can crush fingertips, causing fractures or crushing the bone. In some cases, they can rip off part of the finger, resulting in amputation. Prompt medical treatment is vital because of the high risk of infection.
- The aftermath --Regardless of whether your injury requires surgery, healing may take an extended duration, especially after amputations. Recovery depends on the level of damage done to the nerves, and with finger amputations, the number of fingers lost will determine the impact on the mechanics of the hand. Even if bones and tendons heal, many scars can remain, and it is not uncommon for victims of crush injuries to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder.
Along with the physical pain of a debilitating injury, you will likely have grave concerns about unpaid bills and your ability to provide for your family. Although the Texas workers' compensation insurance system provides financial assistance, securing medical expense and wage replacement benefits can be an intimidating process. You will want to work on obtaining the maximum benefits allowed, and because the insurers sometimes put the interests of their employers first, you may consider seeking professional guidance and support with the navigation of your claim.