The most-thorough survey into the size and shape of the North Sea workforce has found that UK male offshore workers are bigger than the country's typical male and even larger than the average American male.
The findings, which are a result of a joint project between Aberdeen's Robert Gordon University and Oil & Gas UK, could have significant health and safety implications when it comes to how offshore workers are evacuated from a ditched helicopter. The researchers said that the results cast valuable light on the ability of North Sea offshore workers to escape through a helicopter window and that, while bigger individuals are less likely to be able to do so than smaller individuals, "size isn’t everything".
Using portable 3D scanning technology, the researchers measured 588 male offshore workers and extracted a total of 26 measures, including shoulder width, chest girth, neck girth, and a series of volumetric measurements of the arm, leg and torso. Measuring workers in different standing and sitting postures and in form-fitting shorts as well as full survival suits, the research is the most comprehensive study ever carried out to date, RGU said in a statement released Friday.
Commenting on the research, Dr. Arthur Stewart, of RGU's Faculty of Health, said:
"Those who fail the window egress test are probably bigger in any single dimension than those who pass, but that probability is not 100 percent: it is between 70 and 80 percent.
RGU analyzed the size and body shapes of 588 male North Sea offshore workers.
Source: Robert Gordon University
"These findings show us for the first time the extra value of combining individual measurements, and the limitations of an approach which treats the body as a rigid shell in predicting window egress," Stewart said.
The research was prompted by industry recognition that existing size information on offshore workers was out-of-date, and although the workforce was heavier, how that had impacted on their shape and space requirements was unknown.
The last fatal helicopter incident in the UK North Sea involving offshore workers occurred in August 2013, when four people died after an AS332-L2 Super Puma helicopter ditched as it was on approach to Sumburgh Airport on the Shetland Islands.
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