Overview and characteristics of some occupational exposures and health risks on offshore oil and gas installations

Ann Occup Hyg. 2003 Apr;47(3):201-10. doi: 10.1093/annhyg/meg028.


This review considers the nature, and recognition and control, of health risks in the offshore oil and gas industry from the occupational hygiene point of view. Particular attention is given to the changes in the nature of exposure and control of inhalation risks from substances hazardous to health in the UK sector, but other risks (e.g. dermatitis, noise and vibration) are also considered. The amount of published information on exposure to these hazards in the sector, or indeed on long-term health outcomes of working offshore, is limited. The approach taken to occupational health and hygiene in the sector has to be set in the context of the challenge of working in a remote and hostile environment where attention to safety and the need for emergency response to acute, rather than chronic, medical events are vital. However, changes in attitudes towards occupational health in the sector, legislation, the impact of environmental protection requirements and technology have all contributed to increasing the attention given to assessment and control of chemical and physical hazards. The health risks and benefits associated with the abandonment of installations, the application of new technologies, recovery of oil from ever deeper waters, lower staffing levels, environmental changes, the ageing workforce and the recognition of exposure patterns needing further attention/control (sequential multiple exposures, smaller workforce, peak/short-term exposures, etc.) are other current and future occupational hygiene challenges.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / adverse effects
  • Extraction and Processing Industry*
  • Fossil Fuels
  • Fuel Oils
  • Hazardous Substances / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Noise, Occupational / adverse effects
  • North Sea
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Health
  • Risk Factors
  • Vibration / adverse effects


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Fossil Fuels
  • Fuel Oils
  • Hazardous Substances