body scanner

A team of researchers have launched a project in Aberdeen, Scotland, to measure offshore crew members’ body sizes with 3D scanners, in order to gather data for the future design of safety equipment, survival clothing and space requirements on offshore platforms.

The research, which is said to be the first of its kind in more than 25 years, will develop an ongoing capability to measure the size and shape of offshore workers.

As part of the project, the team will design and implement a systematic evaluation of three-dimensional measurements on a sample of about 600 offshore crews.

The project is led by researchers at the Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) Institute of Health and Welfare Research (IHWR), together with specialists from industry body Oil and Gas UK.

RGU’s Centre for Obesity Research and Epidemiology (CORE) deputy director and reader Dr Arthur Stewart and Oil and Gas UK medical advisor Dr Graham Furnace conceived the project in 2011 and formed an experienced team to support the research.

"The team will design and implement a systematic evaluation of three-dimensional measurements on a sample of about 600 offshore crews."

The data from the evaluation will be used to inform all aspects of offshore ergonomics and health and safety, from emergency helicopter evacuation and survival suit design, to space availability in corridors and work environments.

Results of the primary research conducted by the team at RGU has shown that a 90kg man wearing a standard helicopter passenger survival suit increases body volume by 44 litres over that of close fitting clothing. Dr Stewart said that the last body size survey of offshore crew was conducted in the mid-1980s, and since then the average weight of the workforce has increased by 19%.

"As a consequence the size and shape of the offshore workforce has increased to an unknown level," Dr Stewart added.

"Understanding this change in size and space requirements for the offshore workforce is important as their current workplace is designed for personnel as they were a quarter of a century ago. Knowing the actual size of the workforce, together with size increments imposed by different types of clothing, will enable space-related risk to be managed and future design for space provision optimised."

The project has secured £150,000 in funding, through a Technology Strategy Board Knowledge Transfer Partnership Grant and financial support from several Oil and Gas UK member companies. The Aberdeen-based Survival One (Survitek Group) has donated a number of the latest survival suits for the research.

KTP associate Robert Ledingham will work on the research and will test and calibrate new portable 3D scanning technology at RGU’s CORE. During the study, the first group of volunteers will be scanned before using it to gather more data at Falck Nutec’s offshore training facility in Dyce, Scotland.

Image: Research associate Robert Ledingham has been appointed to work on the size and shape study. Photo courtesy of Robert Gordon University.