Medical evacuations and work absences in offshore oil and gas industry personnel


Kathrine Gibson Smith1, Vibhu Paudyal2*, Susan Klein3, Derek Stewart4


1) Institute for Education in Medical and Dental Sciences, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition, University of Aberdeen, UK. 2) School of Pharmacy, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, Sir Robert Aitken Institute for Medical Research, University of Birmingham, UK. 3) Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK. 4) College of Pharmacy, QU Health, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar, PO Box 2713. *Corresponding author



Absenteeism and medical evacuation (medevac) has a significant impact on offshore operations, and individual health and wellbeing.


The research aimed to estimate the prevalence of medevac and work absences due to health-related problems in global offshore workers.


A cross-sectional survey utilising an electronic questionnaire, comprising closed questions, was developed to identify the prevalence of medevac and absenteeism, pre-tested with an expert panel and piloted (n=9). Global oil and gas industry employees (n=776) attending a 1-day course at a training facility in Aberdeen, Scotland, were recruited on a daily basis. Consenting participants received an invitation email containing a link to an online questionnaire.


A total of 352 questionnaires were returned (45.4% response rate). One fifth (n=70, 20.1%) of respondents stated that, over the course of their career, they were unable to travel offshore for work due to their health-related problems. Absence was primarily due to: injury (n=30, 39.0%); short-term illness (n=19, 24.7%), or long-term illness (n=4, 5.2%). Over the course of their offshore careers, approximately one tenth (n=42, 12.1%) had required medevac of which most resulted from either injury (n=15, 34.1%) or short/long-term illness (n=14, 31.8%). A significant association between absenteeism and medical evacuation was identified (p= 0.002).


The findings support the need for further preventative measures to be taken as a means of reducing the incidence of medevacs and absences in the offshore industry. The development of interventions that enable offshore workers to maintain their own health and wellbeing may be of benefit.

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