Friday, 4 September 2015

Get Ready for a Rant

If you are in any way sensitive, don't like naughty language etc, then stop reading right now.

Background - I work in the oil and gas industry, including working offshore, occasionally as an auditor.  That involves me walking around the platform, accompanied by a person from the operating company, looking at stuff and asking questions. I also carry a digital camera as I take photos of stuff that I see, to use in feedback sessions at the end of the audit. Overall therefore, what I do is actually pretty low on the risk scale.

One of the things that I need to do is every four years, go through a training course on offshore escape and emergency training, involving basic fire fighting, escape from smoke filled buildings, escape from submerged and capsized helicopters etc.  I also need a medical. 

Pre diabetes this was every two years.  In their wisdom Oil and Gas UK have determined that as a T1 diabetic, I need to do this every year.   Rant number 1 - why the fuck, as a well controlled diabetic should I be subject to a full medical on an annual basis when I have two other significant engagements with the medical system in terms of annual reviews as a pump user and with my consultant.  Surely the most effective basis here would be for me to submit my HbA1c information, a letter from my quack and then determine on the basis of that, what my risk as a T1D is, and then decide if I need an annual medical. But what the fuck would I know, I only do it every day.

Get ready for rant number 2

This year, my now annual medical expired on 22nd August, I therefore arranged my appointment with my offshore doctor on 27th July, assuming that would be plenty of time. I arranged it early because, and get ready for yet more pointless bureaucracy, I need every single platform I may visit identified on my medical certificate and the company doctor of every operator needs to give consent for me to go there, and, before I go the medic on the platform needs to give his affirmation that he is happy for me to visit and can deal with potential complications.

You'd have thought with an HbA1C of 42, no history of hypo unawareness and no history of needing assistance to deal with hypos, and a consultant's letter detailing how well I manage the condition (yes, in diabetic terms I'm in the top 10%, sun shining out of my arse etc) I'd have no problem.

Well, 4 weeks down the line and looking to go offshore next week I can tell you, I'm mightily pissed off, to the extent that I'd be happy right now to tell the offshore medical community to go and do things to itself in anatomical terms that only the medical community is likely to understand.

Pulling directly from an e-mail sent to me (names redacted to avoid litigation)

Dear Dr XXXX,

 I have had discussions with [operator XXX].  There are some issues to overcome before a decision can be made as the battery operated insulin pump is often not certified as ‘intrinsically safe’

Does the auditing work he is undertaking involve going outdoors i.e. outwith the accommodation area

If his job would involve going out on deck can he forward evidence that the insulin pump is ‘intrinsically safe

My response

Essentially the problem is that your company doctor is conflating the medical clearance in terms of is my diabetes controlled and am I a health risk with process safety risks.  They are asking, wrongly in my view, questions about the pump and whether it is intrinsically safe etc which has absolutely no bearing on my ability to manage diabetes as a medical condition.

My view is that control of the ignition risk is an issue for the platform management through ISSOW and other risk control channels. In fact the pump is an IPX8 rated device, so suitable for Zone 2 environments and is powered by one AAA battery, which will not be changed outside the accommodation. We routinely use digital cameras outside the accommodation, with gas detectors, permit to work etc, which is exactly what I have done elsewhere in relation to the pump.

Since I started on the pump I have been to XXX LNG, YYY Tunisia and a handful of other North Sea installations, all under the conditions I describe above.  My view here is that the doctor is overstepping the bounds of both his responsibility and knowledge

My real response

What the fuck are you talking about? You are a doctor, not a process safety specialist. Your company employs me because I am a process safety specialist.  Do you have any fucking idea why you are asking that question, or what intrinsically safe actually means?  Do you have any idea of what goes on offshore and the equipment that people take outside the accommodation?  Do you really think, as a process safety specialist I would put myself and others at risk unnecessarily?

Wind your fucking neck in and stick to what you know about.  Am I medically fit to go offshore or not.  Leave questions about managing safety risks to those that know how to do it.

Can you detect that I'm slightly peeved?

End of Rant



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