Scots university and Step Change in Safety experts win top award for N. Sea offshore helicopter study

Helicopter safety study award winners Dr Arthur Stewart (left) Emily Taylor and Robert Ledingham
Helicopter safety study award winners Dr Arthur Stewart (left) Emily Taylor and Robert Ledingham

The results of a ground-breaking project into the dimensions of North Sea workers on board various helicopters has been recognised with an award for outstanding contribution to ergonomics in offshore safety

The three-month study was a joint project by Robert Gordon University (RGU) and Step Change in Safety in response to a mandate from the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure offshore workers were sitting adjacent to windows through which they could make an escape in emergencies.

The project involved measuring the shoulders of a 75,000 strong workforce to establish how many were designated as ‘XBR’ or ‘extra broad’. With these figures in mind, the team would be able to advise seating logistics which maximise the probability of successful escape, following concerns about window egress in an emergency situation.

Following the project’s completion, the team has been awarded the William Floyd Award from the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors, for outstanding and innovative contributions to the field.

The study was led by Dr Arthur Stewart, from RGU’s School of Health Sciences, who commented:

“With the size of the workforce being so vast, I devised ‘train the trainer’ and ‘train the measurer’ teaching packages, which gave us a group of over 1,000 individuals capable of gathering the measurements for us, within specified quality assurance targets.

“Thanks to their hard work, we were able to discover that approximately 3% of offshore workers had a shoulder breadth exceeding 55.9 cm, reaching XBR status and we could then examine the safety implications of their seat positioning  within the  different models within the helicopter fleet.”

Dr. Stewart worked collaboratively throughout the project with Emily Taylor, senior business analyst from Step Change in Safety, who oversaw a range of aspects of the work, including being the central liaison with industry stakeholders such as the CAA and helicopter operators.

Also playing a key role was RGU MRes graduate Robert Ledingham, from Survitec, who was seconded to the project after previously working with Dr. Stewart on the body size and shape study.

Dr Stewart added: “I think this award goes some way to prove the strength of interdisciplinary work across different sectors and the important strides we can make in terms of  improving the safety of our vital workforce as they travel to and from offshore  installations.”

17 May 2018

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