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'Unnaceptably high' number of rig evacuations lead to new Seadrill medical programme

Offshore drilling contractor Seadrill has said “unacceptably high” levels of medical evacuations from its rigs have led to the creation of a new medical programme.

Just over half of its 4,500 workforce offshore has gone through the Medfit programme, introduced in 2017 to tackle issues like heart attacks offshore.

Seadrill said the scheme goes beyond standard regulatory medicals, which can “underestimate” risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes and leave out issues like mental health problems and dental issues.

Corporate medical doctor, Jonathan O’ Keeffe, said: “We noticed we had an unusually high, or an unacceptably high, rate of medical evacuations off of our platforms globally and we wanted to address this by doing more than just the regulatory offshore medical.

“We’re working in a remote setting, several hours away from any sort of hospital or treatment facility, so it is really important that the guys are as fit as they can be within reason so the offshore environment is a safe one for them.”

It is expected that almost every one of Seadrill’s offshore workers will pass through the biannual programme in the next year.

The firm said the Medfit scheme will “more than pay for itself” in the number of evacuations it prevents.

Cardiovascular issues and dental emergencies are some of the most common causes of evacuations offshore, which are both covered through the Medfit scheme.

It also seeks to address psychological problems, which is a growing focus for the offshore industry.

Dr O’ Keeffe added: “We know that if a person is distracted while doing a task, if they’re fatigued through work shift patterns that are exhaustive, or if they are under duress due to stress, anxiety, depression or issues at home, for example, can compile a mental health problem.

“Having that in a remote location in an environment such as an offshore rig is not a good idea for anybody.

“What we try to do with Medfit is identify those people who need support at an early stage while they’re onshore as part of their screening medical and prevent those issues becoming a significant medical or psychological problem offshore, which could lead to a contribution to a safety-related incident.”

The move comes as part of a renewed focus on safety for Seadrill, which last year had an emergency evacuation from its West Phoenix rig after a fire.

Medfit is in place for the UK North Sea and it is hoped the preventive strategy will ultimately lead to better quality of life for workers.

Dr O’ Keeffe added: “Seadrill has the high ambition and the right ambition to be a leader in that space.

“We want to make sure their workers feel that their offshore screening programme is not just a method of making sure they are ready and fit for offshore duty but it’s a health benefit for them as employees for the long-term future of their company participation.”

 

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