Enhancing occupational health safety and productivity are key concerns of most industries particularly in developing countries. Human factors or ergonomics application within industries has been regarded to have significant positive impacts on worker safety, health, satisfaction and performance. This has been both indirect and direct impacts on the overall performance of a particular industry. Even though application of such a concept has attained fundamental momentum within developed countries, it actually remains a little slow within the world’s developing regions (Wilson, 1992).
Oilrigs plant within hot desert environments.
Physical ergonomic issues:
Hot temperate conditions
Too much workload
Long work shifts
To identify and essentially assess ergonomic factors, which affect occupations health, worker productivity and safety within oilrigs under considerably hot climatic conditions.
A total of about 66 employees formed three distinct groups, each being headed by a team leader. A task analysis with the use of site visits and job descriptions showed that a wide range of tasks were undertaken within the oilrig, e.g. drilling operations, lifting, pulling, pushing, rigging operations or maneuvering casings, pipes and other materials, mechanical maintenance and welding (Grandjean, 1998).
The study was carried out in Oman desert on one of the oilrigs selected on the basis of representation of the entire oilrigs within the hot desert area. This rig operated within two separate shifts of 12 hours every day. Work hazards included repetitive movements, manual handling, compressed air, pressurized water, sunlight, heat and noise.
The types of instruments that were established for data collection within the rig include:
The checklists distributed to dam leaders and workers,
A digital sound level meter: measuring noise
Handled meters: measuring humidity and temperature
Bridger: directing information of the measures made
The yearly climatic summary: establishing wind velocity
The thirty two employees who were representative of the entire population had a mean age of 31 years and an average experience of six years on their job. Their educational background ranged from the level of primary education to a trade diploma level. About 66% of all the workers were local (from Omani) while the remaining section was expatriate. The schedule had been extremely diverse with a considerable stress and high-related syndrome potential. The worker response was determined through the frequency analysis method revealing that about 60% perceived their work environment to be extremely hot while about 30% saw it as merely hot. This reveals that most of the workers viewed their work place as very hot during summer period. Within this period, the temperature maintained a high level especially during the night. Within the desert place, worker exposure to the extreme sunny weather would be as long as about twelve hours with a maximum temperature of about 40 to 60 degrees within the summer months. Approximately 75% of all the workers regarded the humidity to be low with a dry workplace.
This study carried out within a desert environment in an oilrig was representative of all oilrigs within the Gulf nations. The study’s results, therefore, have considerable significance as it ultimately establishes ergonomics together with OHS issues within the oil industry in relative desert environments particularly oilrigs.
The oil industry’s management could opt to implement ergonomics guidelines and principles to eliminate or reduce OHS issues and enhance employee satisfaction and performance in oilrigs. The study’s results revealed that work-related symptoms, work schedule and working conditions were considerably severe and diverse. Work within the desert environment with twelve-hour shifts together with a continuous schedule for fourteen, thirty five, seventy or eighty days in a few cases) could be expected to pose a significant impact on the safety and health of employees. Most of the sample employees were not content with the work schedules assigned to them, including the breaks. Obviously, this is an inappropriate and inadequate arrangement considering the environment and work condition. The workers regarded the environment as very hot in the summer months.
Based on the outcomes obtained from this oilrig, a variety of conclusions could be drawn. Employees viewed work within the oilrig and desert environment as one within extreme weather conditions and having a diverse schedule. The key ergonomic issues identified were the long shifts, diverse schedule, hard physical work and an adverse environment. The worker issues with muscle pain, fatigue, discomfort, pain within the arms and back pains were significant. They reveal ergonomic deficiencies within the oilrig. Organizational statistics regarding musculoskeletal disorders, behavioral and mental disorders, repetitive strain injuries and noise-induced hearing loss confirm these ergonomic issues. Most of the workers were not content with their work within the oilrig with about 95% perceiving the work schedule as extremely dissatisfactory and 62% perceiving that work place as very hot. At the end of each working day, workers complained of extreme tiredness claiming that the workload was actually beyond their capacity to take. All these were the key contributors to long work shifts and diverse conditions of working within the rig.
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