Offshore workers 3D body scanning project launched

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Groundbreaking research 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 has been launched in Aberdeen.

The research, which will 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 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.

Project leaders Dr Arthur Stewart, Reader, and deputy director of RGU’s Centre for Obesity Research and Epidemiology (CORE), and Dr Graham Furnace, Medical Advisor for Oil & Gas UK conceived the project in 2011 and have built an experienced team to support the research.

It includes senior figures from Oil and Gas UK – Robert Paterson, Health, Safety and Employment Issues Director and Bob Lauder, Health and Safety Policy Manager – as well as data modelling experts Professor Patrik Holt and Dr Eyad Elyan from RGU’s Institute for Innovation, Design and Sustainability Research (IDEAS).

Dr Stewart said: “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%.

“As a consequence the size and shape of the offshore workforce has increased to an unknown level.

“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.”