Using Offshore Accommodations to Combat Stress on the Job

Published By: Gulfland Structures on June 15th, 2016

It’s no secret–offshore oil rig work is some of the most stressful work any person can do. The work is dangerous. Hours are long. Living accommodations are often very tight, which can create additional irritations. While workers are well-compensated for these risks they nevertheless represent a problem for employers.

Accidents, mistakes, and on-the-job deaths are far more costly than anything your company could spend on making oil rig work less problematic. An up-front investment into accommodations which make employees happy makes outstanding business sense.

Consider this analysis by Dr. Valerie J. Sutherland and Professor Cary L. Cooper of the Manchester School of Management and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology:

“Life offshore has been described as dangerous, arduous, and socially isolating; the environment is characterized by constant noise and activity in sometimes crowded and unnatural living conditions. Indeed, added pressures exist because of the element of uncertainty which is inherent to the industry, as each new discovery area brings previously unencountered problems, and the market is characterized by the price instability of oil and gas commodities.”

These experts went on to identify a series of stress factors. Factor 7 was about living conditions. Common complaints included having inadequate leisure facilities to occupy free time, shared accommodations, having inadequate facilities for physical exercise and a lack of privacy.

In Factor 10, “physical well-being,” the authors also cited a lack of “quiet” rooms–places to unwind when employees were off-shift. Employees are often forced to either settle down in the mess hall or retreat to their bunks when they are off duty. Often, there is no “in-between” space to be found.

Quite a few of these issues can be alleviated by choosing offshore accommodations, and there’s a real business case for making this effort.

The Price of Employee Stress

Stress leads to injuries, injuries lead to accidents, and both injuries and accidents cost money. Here, we will consider the business case for working to reduce and relieve workplace stress. Consider these figures from OSHA:

  • The average cost of an “OSHA recordable” accident is $75,000 per event.
  • The average cost of lost time or a lost workday case was $1,200,000 per event.
  • OSHA also tracked the cost of one very common accident: parted drill lines and dropped blocks. These typically cost $3,900,000.

A small contractor stands to lose even more when workers are stressed. OSHA estimates a single incident could cause a small contractor to suffer 28 or more days at zero profitability.

Many executives choose to shrug off the problem of employee stress, feeling offshore workers should “accept what they get” and “feel happy to have a job that pays so well.” Unfortunately, the numbers prove executives who adopt this hard line do so to the detriment of the bottom line.

Which Problems Can Smart Offshore Accommodations Solve?

First, let’s talk about recreation facilities. Our modular, stackable offshore accommodations include a rec room option. We strongly suggest each of our clients consider this option as an easy way to reduce employee stress.

It’s also easy to devote space to a “quiet room.” Office space could be used for this purpose, though of course that would depend upon your space limitations. You would simply need to furnish the space with comfortable couches and chairs, designating it as a place for reading, quiet conversations, or other low-energy pursuits.

Finally, you can make even a shared 8-man unit very pleasant and inviting. While this does not necessarily solve privacy problems (shared space is shared space) it can nevertheless make employees feel more welcomed and cared for. Features like large windows, comfortable beds, and beautiful surroundings can help your crew sleep better–a must, if the demands of your business require a 12-on, 12-off shift. We can’t necessarily reduce noise–a rig is a rig–but we can create a “home away from home” atmosphere.

Help Employees Find Other Ways to Reduce Stress

Use employee documentation to suggest ways rig workers can adapt to offshore living. Accommodation design cannot solve everything. However, there are also small items employees can bring in order to make life easier.

For example, noise-cancelling headphones are a great investment, allowing employees to relax and feel like they’re getting quiet time in their bunks. One bleeding-edge model called the Everest Elite 300 actually allow users to adjust how much noise they let in. Employees could leave just enough capacity to hear any important alarms but could block out almost everything else. Suggesting a tablet or an e-reader loaded with enough new books for the entire journey is another helpful solution, giving employees a chance to enjoy a mental escape if they don’t want a physical one.

Obviously, your company policy may create some restrictions on what your crew brings from home in order to cope with the stress of offshore living, as will size and weight restrictions. However, try to think outside the box and suggest small, helpful items which can make a world of difference.

Our offshore accommodations are designed to reduce employee stress and improve employee morale.

If you’d like to learn more about how our offshore accommodations can make a real difference, take one of our 3D tours or speak with one of our representatives. We can customize your design options and design the perfect offshore accommodations for your rig. You’ll soon be reaping the benefits that come from running a happy, well-rested crew.


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