UK offshore oil and gas companies will have to ramp up efforts to accommodate overweight employees, UK-based law firm Ledingham Chalmers concluded.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is currently considering if being substantially overweight is a “protected characteristic” under EU employment law.
If the ECJ rules that substantially overweight people are a protected group employers would have to provide accommodations so that the weight and size of workers doesn’t impact their ability to work.
In April, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority introduced new rules that would effectively bar larger workers from riding in helicopters.
In its 2014 health and safety report, Oil & Gas UK said that the average weight of offshore workers jumped by 19 percent since the mid-1980s.
The report also found that the heaviest workers are proportionally heavier than they were 30 years ago.
The confined working spaces on offshore rigs means the size of employees can impact safety and comfort.
Oil & Gas UK said that up-to-date studies of the “considerable increase” in the weight and size of offshore workers is vital to maintaining the comfort and safety.
Oil & Gas UK has partnered with Scotland’s Robert Gordon University to study the size of 600 offshore workers with 3D scanning technology.
“It is hoped that the data will go a long way in improving safety and comfort in a multitude of situations and environments offshore,” the group said.
The reports of the study will be published in 2015.