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RR772 - Offshore working time in relation to performance, health and safety

A review of current practice and evidence

This report details the offshore working time arrangements in operation in the UK North Sea sector, and reviews evidence of their effects on the performance, health and safety of offshore personnel. The report also includes information obtained in interviews with occupational health and safety specialists in the oil/gas industry.

The initial chapters outline the work patterns currently in use on North Sea installations, the legal framework of the working time regulations as applied offshore, and the physical and psychosocial demands inherent in offshore work.

A review of the effects of long work hours and shift work on health and safety outcomes in onshore settings is followed by a detailed presentation of findings from offshore research into work/leave schedules, day/night shift rotation, overtime hours, and their effects on performance, fatigue, alertness,sleep, and health.

The views expressed by health and safety specialists when asked about offshore work/leave schedules, shift rotation, issues of cumulative fatigue and rest offshore, and other aspects of working time arrangements, are reported.

The final chapter presents an overview and conclusions; it identifies optimum work patterns where possible; it notes the gaps that exist in the research literature; and it makes some general recommendations.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2010-03-16