open access

Vol 62, No 4 (2011)
Original article
Published online: 2012-04-30
Submitted: 2013-02-18
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The challenge and prevention of epidemics Experience from offshore petroleum installations and its extrapolation to ships

Arne Johan Ulven
International Maritime Health 2011;62(4):262-265.

open access

Vol 62, No 4 (2011)
MARITIME MEDICINE Original articles
Published online: 2012-04-30
Submitted: 2013-02-18

Abstract

The risk of epidemics represents an important challenge in offshore petroleum activities. All personnel are needed for regular operations, and the outbreak of an epidemic will soon affect the operations. The economical consequences can be vast. The risk of an epidemic is raised due to the closeness of living and catering offshore combined with frequent changes of personnel who travel offshore from many nations. The article is based on the experience gained by the author during 22 years as a senior medical officer in a Norwegian oil company. Some endemics and epidemics are described. None of these resulted in the shutdown of production, but they still represented a major challenge to the company and to the medical staff in particular. The transfer value from experience offshore to ships is obvious but there are differences. Risk analysis and quality assurance systems play an important part in the prevention and limitation of epidemics offshore. The infrastructure of the food supply chain as well as education and training of personnel are key elements. Campaigns on different hygiene topics that address all personnel are launched at regular intervals. Contingency plans must be established and be ready for use in case of a threatening epidemic. Identification of the type and source of the infection or food poisoning, isolation of the infected personnel, safe evacuation of patients, and the establishment of other necessary barriers for reduction of spread of infection are necessary to control an outbreak of an epidemic.

Abstract

The risk of epidemics represents an important challenge in offshore petroleum activities. All personnel are needed for regular operations, and the outbreak of an epidemic will soon affect the operations. The economical consequences can be vast. The risk of an epidemic is raised due to the closeness of living and catering offshore combined with frequent changes of personnel who travel offshore from many nations. The article is based on the experience gained by the author during 22 years as a senior medical officer in a Norwegian oil company. Some endemics and epidemics are described. None of these resulted in the shutdown of production, but they still represented a major challenge to the company and to the medical staff in particular. The transfer value from experience offshore to ships is obvious but there are differences. Risk analysis and quality assurance systems play an important part in the prevention and limitation of epidemics offshore. The infrastructure of the food supply chain as well as education and training of personnel are key elements. Campaigns on different hygiene topics that address all personnel are launched at regular intervals. Contingency plans must be established and be ready for use in case of a threatening epidemic. Identification of the type and source of the infection or food poisoning, isolation of the infected personnel, safe evacuation of patients, and the establishment of other necessary barriers for reduction of spread of infection are necessary to control an outbreak of an epidemic.
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Keywords

Infections; epidemics; hygiene; offshore; risk assessment

About this article
Title

The challenge and prevention of epidemics Experience from offshore petroleum installations and its extrapolation to ships

Journal

International Maritime Health

Issue

Vol 62, No 4 (2011)

Article type

Original article

Pages

262-265

Published online

2012-04-30

Bibliographic record

International Maritime Health 2011;62(4):262-265.

Keywords

Infections
epidemics
hygiene
offshore
risk assessment

Authors

Arne Johan Ulven

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