Every offshore worker must undergo and pass a medical examination which classifies them as medically fit to work in the offshore environment.
Different offshore authorities have different requirements. For UK waters only physicians who are approved by the United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association (UKOOA) Health Advisory Committee should carry out the examination and issue certificates.
The offshore medical certificate, as it is commonly known, is only valid for a limited time, and you need to renew it to continue working offshore. The frequency for renewal depends on the authority controlling the asset you are visiting and your age.
For UK waters, all assets are controlled by UKOOA and renewals are necessary 2-yearly, with effect from 1 Jan 2007, irrespective of the age of the offshore person.
Individual Operators retain the right to request medical assessments more frequently.
The UK Medical
Although UKOOA set out the minimum to be included in the medical, contractors report that some doctors carry out a more in-depth examination than others. A typical examination will begin with you filling out an extensive form on your medical history, and lifestyle e.g. alcohol consumption, exercise etc. After this a physical examination will be carried out:
- Urine check (for protein and sugar)
- Height, weight and resultant Body Mass Index calculation
- Blood pressure and pulse
- Basic eye sight test including color vision
- Lung capacity check
- Hearing test
- A physical examination by a doctor. Check stature, listen to your breathing, reflexes etc.
- The doctor will also discuss the form you filled in, and carry out any additional checks they think necessary.
If your employer is paying for the examination they may ask for additional checks, e.g. drug test, to be carried out.
See our Services Directory page for medical providers.
Different countries have different requirements: some stricter than the UK and others less so. Be aware that a UKOOA medical certificate may not be adequate for where you intend to work. The Offshore Operators Association from three countries involved in the North Sea: the UK (UKOOA); Norway (OLF); and The Netherlands (NOGEPA) have signed a reciprocal agreement known as the Hardanger Agreement which states that a valid medical certificate in one country will be valid in the two other countries within the agreement.
Although this agreement is in place, many contractors report that a UKOOA medical certificate is not being accepted at Norwegian heliport check-ins. Therefore, many,contractors pay an extra £10 or so to have an OLF certificate issued by their doctor at the same time as their UKOOA certificate. Not all UKOOA approved doctors issue OLF medical certificates. If you need this certificate, check when booking your appointment.