Weight gain among oil rig workers prompts health drive – Personnel Today

Weight gain among offshore oil rig workers in Scotland has resulted in employers having to encourage dietary changes and adjust safety and medical equipment, according to an occupational health provider.
Oil rig workers are reportedly being served chips only once a week, while lifeboats, helicopters, stretchers and medical equipment are being adjusted to accommodate heavier people.
Health assessments, daily exercise classes and the opportunity to participate in fitness challenges are also being offered in a bid to encourage workers to lose weight.
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According to TAC Occupational Health, which provides OH services to offshore energy firms among other employers, the average weight of an offshore worker increased from 75kg in 1975 to 95kg in 2020, and has since increased by a further 4kg to 99kg.
The average BMI has also risen from 27.8 in 2020 to 28.66 in 2023. The ideal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9 and a BMI of 25-30 is considered overweight.
Shoulder measurements have increased from an average of 47.5cm in 2020 to 53.9cm in 2023.
Dr Stuart Scott, chief medical officer at TAC Occupational Health, told The Times that weight gain among offshore workers mirrored a wider trend across Scotland.
“This kind of weight gain is not limited to offshore workers but in this case there are specific implications about safety,” he said.
“If you have a lifeboat rated for taking 50 people of an average weight of 100 kilos and all of the sudden you have an average weight that’s greater, then there are safety implications with those lifeboats.
“We need to make sure that the lifeboats are secure and can accommodate even the biggest people on the platform.”
Helicopters, lifeboats and sickbay equipment offshore are often not approved for people with a weight over 130kg, TAC Occupational Health claimed.
Recent studies have highlighted the risks associated with ultra-processed food, including increasing the risk of depression and the likelihood of high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.
Earlier this month a report from the British Occupational  Hygiene Society claimed that workers in Scotland are experiencing the greatest increase in work-related ill health in the UK. The country has seen work-related sickness cases double in a decade.
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Ashleigh is editor of OHW+ and HR and wellbeing editor at Personnel Today. Ashleigh’s areas of interest include employee health and wellbeing, equality and inclusion and skills development. She has hosted many webinars for Personnel Today, on topics including employee retention, financial wellbeing and menopause support. Prior to joining Personnel Today in 2018, she covered the road transport sector for Commercial Motor and Motor Transport magazines, touching on some of the employment and wellbeing issues experienced by those in road haulage.

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