Oil Platforms Are Scotland's Healthiest Offshore Workplaces

The Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives

Three North Sea oil platforms have become the first offshore sites in Scotland to receive the highest level of a prestigious workplace health improvement and safety accolade.

The Gannet Alpha, Sole Pit Clipper and Shearwater platforms, operated by Shell UK Ltd off the coast of Aberdeen, have all been presented with Healthy Working Lives Gold Award in recognition of their efforts to improve safety and promote healthier lifestyles.

The Healthy Working Lives Awards, administered by the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives, support employers to improve the health of their workforce by addressing a wide range of topics including health promotion, occupational health and safety, employability, mental health and well-being, community involvement, and health and the environment.

Workers on the three platforms have benefited from the introduction of a number of health improvement measures to supplement the high level of health and safety ingrained in their day-to-day working practices. These have included smoking cessation classes and monthly presentations on a range of health issues such as healthy eating and stress management. Workers are also given the option of participating in Well Man clinics, and can choose to receive personal fitness programs which include detailed input and advice from dieticians, nutritionists and gym instructors.

The platforms have also taken steps towards reducing the environmental impacts of their working practices, which is a key component of the Gold Award. The formation of a dedicated environmental team has led to new recycling and waste segregation schemes to cut down on waste materials, and staff have received environmental safety training on the safe use of hazardous chemicals such as benzene.

Alan Hastie, Occupational Health Advisor on Shell UK Ltd's Gannet Alpha platform, said, "We're delighted to have been awarded Gold status in recognition of the high priority we place on staff health and wellbeing across the three platforms.

"The measures we've introduced to achieve the Award have been very well received by the staff and the personal fitness classes in particular have been extremely popular. We're keen to ensure that achieving the Gold Award doesn’t stop the expansion of our health promotion process, and we intend to continue with further health improvement initiatives for our staff in future."

A total of 297 staff work across the three platforms on two rotating shift patterns, which are each between 50 and 125 miles from Aberdeen's coast. The medics on the three platforms were responsible for taking forward the Awards application process, and worked together to decide how new health and environmental awareness procedures could be worked into the platforms daily routines.

Steve Bell, Strategic Director at the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives, said, "There are a dizzying array of health and safety concerns to be aware of on every offshore oil drilling platform, so the staff of the Gannet Alpha, Sole Pit Clipper and Shearwater platforms are to be congratulated on the extra efforts they have made to promote healthier lifestyles and make environmental awareness a key part of their working practices. Their Healthy Working Lives Gold Awards are well-earned, and the platforms deserve to be seen as exemplars of good practice in this part of the oil and gas sector.

"The platforms join more than 250 employers which have received the Award to date, and over 1,000 organizations which have applied for the Awards program. It's clear that workplace health and safety is an issue which more and more organizations are taking seriously. I'd encourage employers across Scotland to join the Awards program for the benefit of both staff and the business alike."

Organizations need to meet core criteria to achieve the three levels of award -- Bronze, Silver and Gold -- however it is designed to be flexible so employers can select the most relevant topics relevant to their own workforce. Employers who strive to tackle issues such as stress can also apply for the Mental Health and Well-Being Commendation Award.

The Healthy Working Lives Award has been developed in consultation with businesses and health professionals across Scotland. It is supported by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Scotland, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), the Scottish Government, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), NHS Scotland, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), Jobcentre Plus, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).