Mining Safety: High Pressure Injection Injury
The unpredictability of a mine’s infrastructure is not the only potential hazard for workers. If they’re not paying proper attention, mine operators can also be injured by various pieces of mining equipment. Among the most insidious types of injuries are those caused by a high pressure injection.
This happens when fluid, that is meant to be channeled through a high pressure injection tube, is accidently injected into a hand or limb. This could occur as the result of a faulty hydraulic hose, a break in an air pipe or an errant grease gun. The typical amount of pressure used by these types of machines can run in the range between 1000psi and 1500psi. Imagine that kind of pressure being injected into your body? That’s not an experience anyone would want to go through.
The Symptoms of a High Pressure Injection Injury
At first, a high pressure injection injury might feel like a minor bee sting or needle prick. The spot where the injury occurred may not even bleed. There could be some initial numbness, but often the person affected by the accident doesn’t feel anything. That doesn’t mean the damage hasn’t been done; furthermore, the pain and irritation may intensify later on. The real concern is not so much the damage to the skin, but what foreign elements could have been injected into the body at such a high volume.
A high pressure injection injury can be thought of as a “liquid bullet,” which can cause as much injury as a real bullet. This type of injury is easy to overlook; even if symptoms aren’t immediately present, a rapid response is key. Anyone who has felt that stinging or jabbing sensation, or knows they have suffered a high pressure injection injury, should immediately seek medical attention. Hopefully, the medical professionals in the area will be familiar with the proper treatment of these types of injuries.
The treatment will often require some type of surgery that will alleviate the pressure surrounding the wound. The injured may also require antibiotics to combat the effects of whatever was injected in to their body. These types of wounds should be taken very seriously. Left untreated, they can result in infection, disfigurement, amputation, and in extreme cases, death.
The obvious goal is to prevent these types of accidents from happening in the first place. That could be accomplished by immediately responding to any equipment or hose leak. This doesn’t mean checking that piece of equipment with your bare hands. Instead, allow for the proper maintenance personal to handle the situation. Only someone who has been certified to work on hydraulic systems should be attending to that type of equipment. When there is a leak in this type of machinery, proper isolation procedures need to be implemented.
It will help if mine operators become familiar with all the potential “hot zones” where these types of injuries could occur. It all comes down to constantly being observant on the job.