Silicone ring; wedding band
Qalo Silicone ring; wedding band

This morning I stumbled across a story in Equipment World about Qalo silicone wedding bands, which can keep your fingers and hands safe on the jobsite. The story caught my eye because we recently published a piece about the widely varying amounts different state workers comp programs pay out for amputation injuries. My initial reaction to the ring story was to be skeptical, but then I remembered visiting the Knaack and Weather Guard plant last summer and being required to remove my wedding band before going onto the factory floor. I don’t remember if they made me wear hearing protection, safety glasses, or a hardhat. But the rule against rings stood out.

It shouldn’t have; I’ve caught my ring on enough things to hurt my finger, but never enough to do serious damage. Not everyone is so lucky. I won’t go into all the things that can happen if a ring gets caught in machinery or snags on a piece of equipment. It’s enough to say the resulting injuries can be disabling and disfiguring. If you don’t believe me, do a Google image search of “wedding band + avulsion” or “wedding band + deglove” (it'd be best not to look if you have a weak stomach). These are terrible injuries and you don't want them to happen to you.

And it’s not just mechanical damage you need to look out for. Metal rings are electrically conductive and bad things can happen if they come into contact with electrical current. You could be electrocuted or suffer burns that could cost you a finger. An article in Road and Track refers to a mechanic, who accidentally bridged the terminals of a car battery with a wrench. His ring went super-hot and burned nearly all the way down to the bone; he was lucky not to lose the finger. There’s a reason why smart electricians and welders do not wear metal rings to work.

Some married tradespeople are said to wear their wedding bands everywhere except the jobsite—a strategy that wouldn’t have worked for me because if I take a ring off I will eventually lose it. Other tradespeople wear rings made from nontraditional materials such as Kevlar, ceramic, or carbide. These materials are said to be electrically nonconductive but they can still get snagged and may be hard to cut off if your finger swells after an accident.

Another possibility would be to wear a silicone band, like the $20 Qalo ring that inspired this post. They are nonconductive and if snagged, will come apart before your finger does. As a former tradesman, I like the crossed hammers that are molded into one of their models.

If none of these ring options do it for you, and you truly believe in “till death do us part”, there is always a wedding band tattoo, which is nonconductive and can't snag or get lost.

For more on tradespeople and tattoos, see A Gallery of Hand Tool Tattoos.

Wedding Band
Courtesy of David Ledford; on Flickr