International SOS releases largest and most comprehensive report on the health of the UK’s offshore workforce

Dr Louise Slaney, Medical Director at International SOS

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Heart conditions and mental health are the main factors in medical interventions

GLOBAL healthcare provider International SOS, has released a report detailing key health concerns for the energy sector’s workforce.

The report is the largest and most comprehensive study into the health of the UK’s offshore workforce and, as such, provides powerful insights into the causes of medical interventions and what can be done to prevent them.

The findings reveal that cardiovascular and mental health are the top two factors that result in the majority of medical consultations and interventions such as medevacs.

Data gathered throughout 2019, from consultations with energy sector workers, and International SOS – the largest provider of medical and occupational health services to the UK energy industry – was collected from 51,500 workers to provide this robust overview of the health of the offshore workforce.

The report found that cardiovascular issues were the main cause of medevacs and that the majority (41%) of cases involved males between the age of 55-64.

Additionally, 21% of the participants smoke – 6% higher than the national average – and less than one in five had an ideal blood pressure.

Mental health is an increasing concern for energy workers, accounting for 29% of all consultations. Of those, more than half (52%) cited stress as the main factor in their mental health and one in four of these cases is work-related.

Dr. Louise Slaney, Medical Director at International SOS, said: “As the largest provider of medical and occupational health services, covering 165 installations in the North Sea we are in a unique position to record and analyse over 76,000 consultations a year with our medical practitioners both onshore and offshore.

“Our analysis has shown that heart problems and mental health are the biggest risks facing the industry and its workforce. Both of these can be reduced through preventative measures and we will be launching a Hearts and Minds campaign to roll-out the strategies employers can adopt to improve the health of their employees.

“This invaluable data provides our clients and the industry with insight to effectively allocate resources, promote early intervention and improve the overall health of the workforce.”

The report also revealed the following:

  • Musculoskeletal problems represent the second highest health complaint onshore – but only 10% of these are work-related
  • As a result of an ageing workforce, 42% of males and females aged 65+ suffer from musculoskeletal problem
  • Most injuries offshore occur within the first half of a worker’s trip and the majority are upper limb cases reported by mechanics
  • Gastrointestinal problems are a leading cause of topside calls – mostly affecting those aged between 35 – 54


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