It is a regulatory requirement, that all persons working offshore in the United Kingdom Continental Shelf are examined every two years and classified as medically fit to work.

The 'Medfit programme' introduced by offshore drilling contractor Seadrill gives an example of a company going beyond this minimum standard. The Medfit programme arose from Seadrill's concerns that the regulatory standard for medicals underestimates risks of psychological, dental and cardiovascular issues.

Dr. Johnathan O'Keeffe, Corporate Medical Doctor at Seadrill comments "Many of the basic regulatory health screenings do not look carefully at psychological or dental risk".

Under the new Medfit programme, the employee health screening now includes physiological examination, dental healthcare checks, cardiovascular risk scoring and contagious or infectious disease screening.

It is reported that it is hoped that the programme will proactively result in a reduction in the numbers of medical evacuations from Seadrill's rigs. Whether the motivating factor is operational, commercial or contractual, it's commendable that Seadrill are adopting a preventative approach when addressing issues relating to the health, safety and wellbeing of their workforce.

No doubt the industry will monitor Seadrill's new 'Medfit Programme' and its effectiveness in reducing offshore incidents and reducing unplanned returns to the beach due to medical reasons. It will be interesting to see if their approach is followed by other companies within the UK Oil and Gas sector or perhaps others in the marine space who are also required to provide medical certification. Perhaps this could signal a potential for change in the regulations themselves....