North Sea Worker Body Size Study Nets Award
Thursday May 17, 2018  

A study into the body sizes of UK offshore workers on board various helicopter crafts has been given the William Floyd Award for outstanding and innovative contributions to ergonomics and human factors.

The three-month study was a joint project by Robert Gordon University and Step Change in Safety, in response to a mandate from the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure offshore workers were sitting adjacent to windows through which they could make an emergency escape.

The project involved measuring the shoulders of a 75,000-strong workforce to establish how many were designated as ‘XBR’ or ‘extra broad’. These figures allowed the study team to advise seating logistics which maximized the probability of successful escape, following concerns about window egress in an emergency situation.

The study was led by Arthur Stewart, from RGU’s School of Health Sciences, who has previously been recognized for his ongoing work into the size and shape of the North Sea offshore workforce.

“With the size of the workforce being so vast, I devised ‘train the trainer’ and ‘train the measurer’ teaching packages, which gave us a group of over 1000 individuals capable of gathering the measurements for us, within specified quality assurance targets,” Stewart said in a university statement.

“Thanks to their hard work, we were able to discover that approximately three percent of offshore workers had a shoulder breadth exceeding 55.9cm, reaching XBR status, and we could then examine the safety implications of their seat positioning within the different models within the helicopter fleet,” he added.

Stewart worked collaboratively throughout the project with Emily Taylor, senior business analyst from Step Change in Safety, who oversaw a range of aspects of the work, including being the central liaison with industry stakeholders such as the CAA and helicopter operators.

"Collaboratively, we identified a specific issue, created a simple more sustainable solution which was easy to roll out, with minimal disruption to the user and the sector. We wanted this to work for the workforce,” Taylor said in an organization statement.

The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors’ (CIEHF) William Floyd Award is given to any individual or group that has made outstanding and innovative contributions to ergonomics and human factors, according to the CIEHF website.

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