Implications of Extreme Temperatures on Physiological and Cognitive Functioning in Offshore Wind Technicians

Research projects

Project Description:

This Research Project is part of the Aura CDT’s The wellbeing triad: improving the physical, psychosocial, and cognitive health of workers in the offshore windfarm sector Cluster.

Work in offshore settings requires workers to engage in a variety of potentially risky, physically, and mentally demanding tasks. In 2019, 865 offshore accidents were reported, and similar numbers of incidents (including near hit/miss, amongst others) were reported in 2022. Human error is reported to be one of the most common causes of accidents on OSW platforms, including mistakes in judgement, fatigue, and attentional lapses, alongside extreme weather. Additionally, according to statistics from a manufacturing company, 40% of wind turbine errors are due to human error.

Working long hours in harsh environments, wind conditions and extremely low, and high temperature increases the susceptibility of human error. Despite exposure to extreme heat and cold being frequently cited as a risk to OSW technicians, to date the focus surrounding weather implications for OSW technicians has focused predominantly on wind and lightning, and not the implications of extreme environmental temperature, which is becoming ever present due to global warming. Heavy personal protective equipment (PPE) may also increase thermal strain experienced in hot weather, contributing further to the susceptibility of human error.

This project will investigate the physiological and cognitive consequences of extreme environments (i.e., hot and cold) for technicians working in Offshore Wind (OSW).The project will implement both quantitative and qualitative approaches to understand the psychophysiological demands of the OSW technician’s role, examine the impact of hot and cold conditions (accounting for PPE use) on task execution, and explore strategies for maintaining physical and cognitive functioning in such conditions.

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