Offshore drilling contractor Seadrill has set out to define a new health standard for thousands of its employees before they embark on rigs offshore.
The company, in partnership with occupational health services provider International SOS, in 2016 implemented a modern, preventative medical strategy called Medfit that goes beyond the requirements of regulatory health examinations and ensures consistent, higher standard screenings for all employees across the Seadrill drilling fleet.
Under the Medfit program, an employee health screening now includes a physiological examination, dental healthcare check, cardiovascular risk scoring and contagious or infectious disease screening. The company has even incorporated educational initiatives to highlight the importance of maintaining good mental and physical health.
"Medfit is a more comprehensive examination," said Dr. Johnathan O'Keeffe, Corporate Medical Doctor at Seadrill. "Many of the basic regulatory health screenings do not look carefully at psychological or dental risk, for example. In addition, MedFit takes a look at combined risk factors for heart disease and stroke whereas most industry medicals will only look at one or two risk factors in isolation."
This, he said, makes Medfit’s predictive value much more useful and targeted.
"People with high blood pressure may be able to work safely offshore but when you combine their smoking status, cholesterol breakdown, family history and their renal disease or diabetes you get a clearer picture of who is at risk," he said.
Dr. O'Keeffe said the program also helps individuals affected by physiological and psychological conditions, such as stress, anxiety or depression benefit from the appropriate treatment.
Seeing the results
Since the program was implemented three years ago, and after more than 2,000 Medfit screenings in 23 countries where the driller operates, Seadrill said 98% of its offshore workforce have reported a greater health awareness, improved productivity and increased wellbeing.
"Prevention is always the best option, whether from an operational integrity or cost perspective," Dr. O'Keeffe said.
Seadrill said Medfit has helped it to reduce days lost by identifying psychological and physiological conditions ahead of time, and it was even able to identify conditions which prevented 21 emergency evacuations from the rigs.
"Since adopting the MedFit standard we have had less cardiac events in our offshore population than we expected based on data from previous years. Less angina, less heart attacks, less hyperglycaemic episodes and fortunately no strokes or cardiovascular deaths in the last year," Dr. O'Keeffe explained. "It is early days but it looks like the preventive strategy is picking up or nudging people to seek help prior to an event offshore."
Dr. O'Keeffe said Seadrill's clients have responded positively to the program. "We have had good feedback from the QHSE and medical teams at many of our clients. Several have indicated they are happy to see an alignment with their own health requirements and have given an equivalence agreement where we have been able to avoid a ‘double’ medical screening requirement. It has led to a better level of communication between our client’s medical department as they appear to trust we are keen to invest in prevention."