The Energy Institute has published recommendations for minimum fi tness standards for those working in the Oil and Gas Industry. The document, published in October 2010, offers guidance on administering fi tness tests, an increasingly common practice in industry. The Energy Institute contracted the University of Portsmouth to develop and recommend a suitable fi tness standard and a number of oil and gas companies made contributions towards the project. Various facilities were visited and company employees interviewed to determine the most common and essential physical tasks carried out on and offshore. The tasks identifi ed include:

  • opening and closing valves
  • climbing ladders and stairs
  • lifting and manual handling
  • pulling hoses and cables
  • emergency evacuation
  • survival training.

A number of potential benefi ts of introducing the fi tness standards into the work place have been highlighted, including:

  • Minimising the potential for employing people who are not fi t for physically demanding jobs.
  • Decreasing the potential for injury and/or breach of health and safety law.
  • Ensuring selection is based solely on the ability to complete tasks, thereby ensuring that it is fair and unbiased.

 With the planned phase-out of the default retirement age due to take place this year, the use of fi tness tests may also prove useful as a potential means by which an employer may fairly assess whether or not a worker is still fi t to carry out the tasks required of them. Such as assessment would have to be objectively justifi ed and the resulting employment situation carefully managed.

The Energy Institute has emphasised that the report does not provide guidance on policy issues or implementation strategies, which are considered to be matters for individual companies . Companies may wish to seek advice on the interaction between fulfi lling safety requirements offshore and employment law.

The oil and gas industry currently requires a fi tness test to be carried out only on members of Emergency Response Teams (ERTs) and it will be interesting to see whether or not the new tests are adopted by operators and contractors.