Stress prevention in the offshore oil and gas exploration and production industry

The paper is aimed at providing information on how to identify stress among different groups of offshore workers on various types of installations or in varying locations; and identifying and selecting the options that are available to prevent or minimize the problems of stress offshore.

This working paper is directed towards the prevention of stress in the offshore exploration and production industries. Many recommendations are given to reduce work stress, but it must be acknowledged that on any mobile drilling rig or fixed production platform there exists a great diversity of occupations and skill levels. This means that a step-by step-guide for stress prevention for each specific occupational offshore group is beyond the scope of this paper.

It is suggested that the "Triple A" approach to stress management be adopted in the offshore environment. It incorporates: AWARENESS, ANALYSIS, ACTION.

The authors believe that awareness about stress arises from a reliable, systematic analysis of the problem, and on the basis of an accurate diagnosis, action can be taken with confidence. This approach has the added advantage of ensuring commitment to a subsequent stress prevention initiative, and resistance to change is minimized.

Three essential components are necessary to the success of stress management and stress prevention initiatives:
— It is essential that the costs of mismanaged stress are recognized.
— It should be acknowledged that stress can only be successfully dealt with if it is considered from both a preventive and a curative perspective. It is the responsibility of the organization and the individual to prevent stress whenever possible. However, since not all stress can be eliminated, it is also necessary to find effective ways of coping with stress when it occurs.
— The prevention of stress demands that the source or cause of stress be accurately identified.

These three issues are presented first in this working paper before the options available for stress prevention and stress control are presented.