Offshore workers’ mental health is being affected by the downturn in the oil industry to the point where there is an increased suicide risk according to the boss of an offshore healthcare provider.
Lawrie Campbell, regional general manager of International SOS, was speaking at the Topsides UK conference held in Aberdeen.
Campbell told Energy Voice: “”It is a fair assumption to say that with the number of redundancies and associated change or increased workload people are under more stress. We should take it seriously.”
“We don’t have the stats to know what the average numbers of suicide are, per month of per year across the North Sea, but we have to take it seriously.
“We have a resilience training package for our medics who can provide that type of coaching offshore.”
“Working in an extreme remote environment, we advocate everyone goes through an additional psychological assessment.
International SOS operates in the UKCS and Norwegian sector, providing occupational support services. He said the oil and gas industry was making progress in ensuring the physical wellbeing of offshore employees.
“When you look at the Norwegian model, they do require you to undertake a risk assessment of the physical work environment but also a risk assessment of the psycho-social work environment.
“Norway is required to periodically assess the psycho-social risk for employees. We are not yet required to do that by law [in the UK}, but I think we all understand that risk and do something about it.
For those who work in relative isolation for long periods of time, I think we know there is a real risk that has to be dealt with, I don’t think we’ve taken that seriously enough yet.”
“There is stress associated with working offshore and considering the remote environment – whether that’s on a ship or on a fixed asset.”
Mental health support services have urged oil workers affected by the crisis not to bottle up their concerns until they reach breaking point.
The national suicide prevention programme at NHS Health Scotland has warned that unemployment is a key risk factor for suicide.
Campbell said: “Like it or not, there’s still a macho culture in the offshore sector which can make it difficult for people to find someone to talk to.”