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Comprehensive Guide to OGUK Physical Exams

Working on offshore oil and gas refineries is a physically and mentally demanding job that requires workers to be fit for duty. An Oil & Gas UK (OGUK) physical is an offshore medical examination that sets a high standard for medical fitness for those working on offshore rigs.

Initially introduced in the UK, OGUK physicals are becoming increasingly common in other countries. In fact, nearly all offshore oil drilling companies require their employees to undergo an OGUK physical before setting foot on a platform. The physical includes vision, urine, hearing, and other types of testing, as well as drug and alcohol screening.

Let’s take a closer look at what constitutes an OGUK physical, how it is performed, and why it’s so important.

The Role of OGUK in the Offshore Industry

The OGUK (now known as Offshore Energies UK, or OEUK) is the leading trade association and standards body for the oil and gas industry in the North Sea. Its members include the world’s largest oil, gas, and energy companies.

The OGUK publishes good practice guidelines and sets standards for a wide range of factors impacting offshore drilling, wind turbine, and other types of installations. Their award-winning reports cover topics ranging from decommissioning activity to environmental specifications to employee health standards and beyond.

The OGUK physical is one of the organization’s most recognized and well-regarded standards, offering a comprehensive offshore medical examination that sets a high bar for workplace safety. It has become standard practice for oil and gas organizations the world over to require OGUK physicals for any offshore worker. The examination not only ensures that workers are fit for duty; it also helps organizations maintain a safe workplace where injuries are kept to a minimum.

Understanding the OGUK Physical Examination

Worker lifting weight under physiotherapist's supervision, representing strength test in OGUK physical exams

Working offshore is an incredibly demanding job. Offshore workers are typically deployed in some of the toughest environments in the world, and routinely deployed for months in the same location. A typical schedule consists of seven to 14 days of work, 12 hours a day.

Such a physically demanding job, performed in difficult conditions, requires a high level of fitness. Ensuring that prospective employees are physically up for the challenge is critical to achieving a safe and productive workplace.

That’s why an OGUK physical exam is so important. An OGUK physical examination is like a standard physical, yet more comprehensive. The goal is to carefully assess every aspect of a patient’s physical well-being to ensure that they are completely fit for duty.

An OGUK physical consists of several components, including:

  • Patient history questionnaire
  • A standard physical examination, including blood pressure and pulse monitoring, checking ears, throat, nose, teeth, etc.
  • Urinalysis
  • Body mass index (BMI) measurement
  • Lung function testing
  • Hearing testing (audiogram)
  • Vision testing

Exams are performed by experienced OGUK-certified physicians in specialized facilities that have been vetted and certified by OGUK. Each exam generally takes about an hour. Results are available quickly—usually within 60 minutes.

Read Too: Workplace Safety Examples: A Guide to Best Practices

Preparing for an OGUK Physical

Doctor measuring patient's blood pressure, an important part of the OGUK Medical examination process

Preparing for an OGUK physical or offshore medical examination is fairly simple and straightforward. Since there is no blood work involved, participants do not need to fast. However, there are certain materials they need to bring with them to the examination, including:

  • Photo identification (driver’s license, passport, etc.)
  • Detailed medical history
  • Current list of medications
  • Reading or distance glasses (if applicable)

Patients will need to fill out a medical questionnaire either at the point of care or prior to arriving at the facility. This can usually be completed online, but in some cases, patients may need to fill out paperwork and bring it with them. Patients should arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the start of their exams.

Questionnaires generally include questions about whether the patient smokes, prior medical conditions, and other standard health factors, with some inquiries that are specific to offshore drilling (i.e., has the patient ever suffered a health incident while working offshore? Have they ever been airlifted from a facility due to a health emergency? etc.).

Understanding the OGUK Physical Report

Doctor using a stethoscope to listen to a patient's heart, a routine procedure in OGUK physical assessments

Results from the OGUK physical examination will include the patient’s BMI, drug screening results, and more.

All findings are reviewed in detail by the OGUK-certified physician. The physician will not only have knowledge of the patient’s physical status but in-depth experience in how that status will affect the patient’s ability to work in an offshore environment. The physician will explain the results to the patient, including any red flags that may prevent the patient from attaining medical clearance and certification to work offshore.

Assuming the patient passes the physical, they will immediately receive a “Medical Certificate for Offshore Work,” signed off by the examining physician and deeming it safe for them to commence employment. The certificate is good for two years, at which time the patient will need to take another OGUK physical examination if they wish to continue offshore work.

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Frequently Asked Questions about OGUK Physicals

What is an OGUK physical?

An OGUK physical is an offshore medical examination that sets a high standard for medical fitness for those working on offshore rigs. An OGUK physical is similar to a standard physical exam yet more comprehensive, with a focus on ensuring that offshore workers are fit for duty to work in physically and mentally demanding environments.

What does an OGUK physical consist of?

An OGUK physical consists of several components, including a patient history questionnaire, a standard physical examination, urinalysis, BMI measurement, lung function testing, hearing testing, and vision testing.

How long does a UK offshore medical exam last?

The exam takes about 60 minutes from the start of the exam to when the patient receives their results. Upon successful completion, the patient will receive a “Medical Certificate for Offshore Work,” certifying that they are fit for offshore duty.

How long are the results from an OGUK physical exam good for?

Certification is good for two years, at which time patients will need to take another OGUK physical if they wish to continue offshore work.

What are some misconceptions about an OGUK physical?

Many people think that OGUK physicals are just like standard physicals. They are, but more comprehensive. In addition to performing a standard physical, an OGUK physical examination includes a urinalysis, lung function testing, hearing and vision testing, and more.
While offshore medical examinations are performed by physicians, they must be OGUK-certified. Examinations must also take place in OGUK-certified facilities, not just standard doctor’s offices.

Secure Your Offshore Future: Embrace the OGUK Physical Today!

OGUK physical examinations are critical to maintaining offshore work safety in some of the world’s harshest environments. They help to ensure that those who are working for months and even years on offshore rigs are physically fit for duty. They also minimize the threat of health incidents, creating a healthier and safer workplace for oil and gas workers.

Learn about Acuity’s OGUK physical exam services and how they can help your organization maintain a healthy and safe workforce, wherever it is located.

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