Amid the challenges posed to operations and logistics staff by weather-enforced crew change delays, one other offshore discipline also has a key role to play – the medic.
An Aberdeen-based medical expert says events such as the summer backlog of helicopter flights, caused by a period of North Sea haar, put extra pressure on offshore workers.
And Dr Stuart Scott, Medical Manager with Capita, believes it’s crucial for the health implications of those short-notice changes of circumstances to be monitored closely.
Dr Scott said: “The difficulties caused by delayed crew changes due to the weather should not be underestimated. People are working 12-hour days, seven days a week and then suddenly having to work extra days due to the flights issue.
“In the modern industry people are routinely working to full capacity, and there’s little room for slack. Tiredness, stress and poor concentration are all potential issues which could arise.
“There is also the issue of increased pressure from home as those working offshore miss holiday dates or important events due to weather delays. In addition, many will be rostered to return to work following a reduced break – or in some cases no break at all. Special care and attention needs to be taken in these circumstances when the practical reason for the delay has long gone.
“It’s important the worker recognises the extra load they are taking on if they are working beyond their original schedule, and checks in with their medic to make sure all is well. It’s very much a process of communication and then putting a plan in place. In the drilling sector, where the majority of people work three weeks on and three weeks off, workers check in on the 22nd day offshore with the medic and from each day then onwards.
“The impact of delayed flights not only causes anxiety for those offshore but workers onshore with hotels booked in advance. I would hate to think what would happen if the same weather issues of a few weeks ago repeated themselves in early September, when Offshore Europe is taking place in the city. The situation could be chaotic with simply no hotel rooms available for rostered workers waiting to go offshore.
“The recent return to service of the Super Puma EC225 would help the industry clear the backlog should there be similar weather issues again as they were not available at the time of the recent problems.
“The industry has a strong record in safety processes. We must continue to look after our offshore workers and remind them that help is on hand should their return onshore be delayed.”
Capita Health and Wellbeing offers a wide range of services, including advice on how to handle issues cause by delayed crew changes.
With more than 40 years’ experience in the provision of professional wellbeing and health services, Capita delivers a range of solutions and innovations to the energy sector.
Services include the provision of medics and nurses, offshore medical services and expert advice, training, health surveillance, absence management, international repatriation solutions, wellbeing strategy and employee assistance.
Additionally, Capita has helped to lead the way in this specialist field with the introduction of a technology-led remote healthcare system, called D-MAS. A laptop-based ‘telemedicine’ solution, complemented by individual pieces of specialist kit, D-MAS allows doctors to assess patients remotely via live video feeds.
Capita Health and Wellbeing has more than 210 staff in Aberdeen. The business will be exhibiting at stand 1B55 at Offshore Europe at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (September 3-6).
Press Release, August 23, 2013