UK researchers have launched a project to improve safety on offshore rigs and helicopters by using a 3D scanner to measure the size of workers.
Claimed to be the “first of its kind” in more than 25 years, the £150,000 project aims to design and assess three-dimensional measurements on a sample of around 600 offshore workers. The research is expected to provide the offshore industry and supply chain with insight into how body shape, size and volume have increased in the last 25 years.
The data will then be used for all aspects of offshore health and safety – from emergency helicopter evacuation and survival suit design to space availability in work environments. The last body size survey of offshore workers is believed to have taken place in the mid-1980s and since then the average weight of the workforce has risen by 19%.
Dr Arthur Stewart, Deputy Director at Robert Gordon University’s (RDU) Centre for Obesity Research and Epidemiology and one of the project leaders said: “We want to gather data so we can help the safety of those offshore in their day-to-day work and in emergencies… When you’re evacuating a rig or a helicopter, you need to know how big people are so you can work out how many people can properly fit in a certain space, such as helicopters and lifeboats.
“Understanding this change in size and space requirements for the offshore workforce is important as their current workplace is designed for personnel as they were a quarter of a century ago. Knowing the actual size of the workforce, together with size increments imposed by different types of clothing, will enable space-related risk to be managed and future design for space provision optimised.”
The project is led by researchers at RDU’s Institute of Health and Welfare Research in Aberdeen in collaboration with Oil and Gas UK, the trade body for the offshore industry.