The project will provide more precise and reliable insight into potential illness related to the working environment among Norwegian offshore workers. The project has established a new study population of offshore workers based on helicopter transport and work history among offshore workers who have travelled offshore in the period 1980 until today. Also, the project is now conducting a survey sent directly to the offshore workers. This cohort will be linked to a cohort established by the Cancer Registry of Norway in 1998, consisting of offshore workers who had worked offshore between 1965-1998. With this combined cohort, a state-of-the-art monitoring tool will be available, that can be linked to a variety of national health registries and other data sources, which will provide a unique opportunity to evaluate the effect of HSE interventions on different health outcomes. The project will use updated exposure estimates and information from various health registries to address scientific questions related to mortality, diseases, trauma/injury, and prescription drug consumption among offshore workers. These questions are important for the oil companies, the offshore workers, supervisory authorities and for the international scientific community.
The development of the project has been carried out in collaboration with experts at the University of Bergen (exposure assessments), the National Institute of Occupational Health (STAMI), the Cancer Registry of Norway (offshore cohorts), and the National Trauma Registry/Oslo University Hospital (anaesthesia and traumatology). The epidemiological and statistical analyses will be carried out in collaboration with some of the world's leading specialists in the field from the US National Cancer Institute, Albert Einstein College of Medicine (NY, USA), Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University (Netherlands), and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (NC).
Studies of cardiovascular, respiratory, neurological, psychological diseases and injuries according to occupational exposures and lifestyle factors in upstream petroleum workers are currently lacking. Knowledge from such studies— based on objective disease registry data and well-characterized exposure data—is of great international interest. Studies in petroleum workers, focusing on other outcomes than mortality or cancer, have often been based on self-reported outcomes, which is incomplete and prone to serious bias. Offshore petroleum workers are exposed to hydrocarbons during production and processing at offshore platforms. To quantify disease risk according to career-long exposure, it is important with exposure data that cover the total employment period, which in turn allows for estimation of disease risk according to time-dependent exposure. Offshore workers are also subject to extreme shift work and touring patterns, psychological strain, sleep deprivation, an affluent lifestyle and long periods of limited physical activity, which are important risk factors for chronic disease. The present project has three main objectives: 1) update job-exposure matrices for benzene and oil mist/vapour with recent measurement data, 2) conduct a questionnaire survey on work history and lifestyle factors among former and active offshore workers, and 3) undertake broad, register-based assessments of mortality, morbidity and injuries in this occupational group. The present project will make use of the Norwegian Offshore Petroleum Worker cohort (NOPW cohort, n˜28 000) with employments during the time period 1965–1998, and a new cohort of virtually all Norwegian petroleum workers (n˜75 000) from the period 1980–2020. The new cohort is based on transport records from onshore heliports to offshore platforms and back (Heliport cohort). Together the NOPW cohort and the Heliport cohort will generate novel scientific evidence that in turn may be used for disease preventive actions.