Scottish research targets roly-poly riggers

Researchers in Aberdeen are to measure offshore workers’ body size with 3D scanners to inform the future design of safety equipment, survival clothing and space requirements on offshore installations.

The work is being carried out because the girth of the average UK worker is increasing, a development that could impact safety when filling or evacuating confined spaces during an offshore emergency.

The research, which is expected to generate an ongoing capability for measuring the size and shape of the offshore workforce, is the first of its kind in more than 25 years and is being led by researchers at Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) Institute of Health and Welfare Research (IHWR) in collaboration with experts from Oil and Gas UK.

The project’s aim is to design and implement a systematic assessment of three-dimensional measurements on a sample of around 600 offshore workers.

The data will then be used to inform all aspects of offshore ergonomics and health and safety, from emergency helicopter evacuation and survival suit design to space availability in corridors and work environments.

‘The last body size survey of offshore workers was undertaken in the mid 1980s and since then the average weight of the workforce has risen by 19 per cent. As a consequence the size and shape of the offshore workforce has increased to an unknown level,’ said Dr Arthur Stewart, Reader, and deputy director of RGU’s Centre for Obesity Research and Epidemiology (CORE)

‘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.’

Initial research conducted by the team at RGU has shown that a 90kg man wearing a standard helicopter passenger survival suit increases body volume by 44 litres over that of close fitting clothing.

Funding for the project was secured through a combination of a Technology Strategy Board Knowledge Transfer Partnership Grant plus support from several Oil & Gas UK member companies.