Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health

School

School of Exercise and Health Sciences

Faculty

Health, Engineering and Science

First Advisor

Associate Professor Jacques Oosthuizen

Second Advisor

Dr Joseph Mate

Abstract

The aim of this study was to identify, discuss and make recommendations regarding causal factors associated with injuries and accidents among seafarers and rig workers providing support to the WA offshore oil and gas industry. These incidents cause significant personal and economic burdens for employees, employers and the community in general.

A sample of 484 participants were recruited from a workforce of 9800 employees (approximately 5%). Participants were stratified into 2 cohorts; those who had suffered injury (286 – study group) and those who had not (198 - controls).

Data from the study group were stratified into oilrig workers and vessel seafarers. A one-way analysis of variance revealed that the injury incidence rate for the seafarers in the study group was significantly higher (mean 14.4 injuries) in the first quarter of each multi week work period ( "swing") (P=0.001), compared to means of 4.125 and 2.44 and 4 for the subsequent quarters. For the oil rig workers, the mean injury incidence rates across the four quarters remained similar.

It was recommended that a safety officer be assigned to each vessel to support workers for the 1st quarter of each swing. Implementation of this practice has been trialled in another study leading to a reduction in the number of incidents over a 12 month period (Brown, 2009). Other factors that influenced injury incidence rates were age and level of experience, with younger and less experienced workers being more injury prone. Encouraging older, experienced workers to mentor younger employees and to manage their workload according to their physical capabilities will be a useful intervention. The implementation of these recommendations will reduce the injury incidence rate of this unique cohort of employees thus reducing the economic burden of injuries and accidents to the employee, the employer and the community in general.

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