“Our extensive experience of over 35 years in offshore medicine and global occupational health has positioned us as the preferred provider for comprehensive medical support in a remote setting”
Founded in 1985, the International SOS Group, headquartered in London & Singapore, is trusted by 9,500 organisations, including the majority of the Fortune Global 500 as well as mid-size enterprises, governments, educational institutions, and NGOs. 13,000 multi-cultural, security, medical, logistics and digital experts stand by you to provide support & assistance from over 1,000 locations in 90 countries, 24/7, 365 days.
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Interview with Dr Nosa Aihie, Regional Medical Director, Offshore and Medical Services, Middle East, International SOS:
What major occupational health issues in Egypt’s offshore environments have you noticed in the context of evolving workplace health and safety? How can organisations address them effectively?
The occupational health issues observed in Egypt offshore Energy sector are not that different from those encountered in other markets. We see that climate change is notably influencing disease patterns, leading to an upsurge in infectious diseases, heat-related ailments, and injuries. Furthermore, mental health issues have gained prominence due to rotational work, the stress of remote locations, and an aging workforce. These issues, while not exclusive to Egypt, have garnered increased attention given the country’s aim to increase the supply of electricity generated from renewable sources to 42 per cent by 2035 in line with its 2035 Integrated Sustainable Energy Strategy.
Organisations that have demonstrated proactive approaches to address these occupational health challenges have implemented various measures. Among these is the cultivation of a robust culture of Duty of Care, which prioritises the well-being and safety of the workforce. Additionally, these organisations have embraced the use of digital tools to anticipate and manage climate-related occurrences, enabling them to effectively mitigate associated security implications. They actively seek advisory support to evaluate their readiness, crafting policies that align with international best practices and standards such as ISO 45001 and the upcoming ISO 450XX series.
As a response to the challenges encountered by organisations in remote locations, International SOS has been actively involved in offering tailored medical support for workers in these offshore environments. We have established a comprehensive medical support system specifically designed for offshore conditions. This system incorporates medically trained personnel equipped to handle emergencies, telemedicine capabilities, and a robust global supply chain. Moreover, we prioritise proactive health risk assessments, routine occupational health checks, and continuous training for medical professionals operating in offshore environments. Our advanced telemedicine solutions enable real-time support for remote medics, ensuring prompt and efficient medical assistance in these isolated work settings.
Given your extensive background in occupational medicine, could you please share some insights into the importance of medical preparedness in the Egyptian workplace, particularly in offshore and remote settings? Could you share examples of best practices that can safeguard employee health and safety during emergencies in Egypt?
Given the evolving workplace dynamics in Egypt, emphasising medical preparedness is crucial, particularly in offshore and remote settings. These environments often present unique challenges due to limited access to immediate medical facilities and resources, potentially exacerbating the impact of any health-related emergencies. Therefore, it becomes important to implement measures that prioritise the health and safety of employees in these isolated locations. This includes addressing the complexities of having the right medical professionals with the necessary skill sets and adequate medical equipment for the population.
The key to effective preparedness lies in establishing a robust health management system, which includes comprehensive risk assessment and mitigation strategies. By identifying potential health hazards and formulating appropriate preventive measures, the likelihood of medical emergencies can be reduced, if not entirely averted. This approach ultimately ensures both the protection and promotion of employee health.
Furthermore, to enhance the effectiveness of medical preparedness, it is important to integrate advanced technology and data-driven solutions. By leveraging the power of intelligence and analysis, decision-making processes can be informed by real-time data, enabling prompt and well-informed responses during emergencies. We believe creating standardised protocols for managing crises and establishing clear communication channels can facilitate efficient coordination and ensure a cohesive response among all stakeholders involved.
Owing to our extensive experience in this domain, International SOS has established itself as a reliable and trusted provider, especially in offshore settings. We have been instrumental in driving industry standards and protocols, thus setting a benchmark for best practices.
For global offshore Energy organisations one of the primary focal points has been the development of a global health program that meticulously adheres to both national and international regulations. This comprehensive approach ensures that the medical support provided is not only aligned with global industry standards but also with the specific requirements of the local workplaces. Moreover, our approach emphasises the importance of localised support for each asset.
This includes having onsite medical personnel equipped with trauma capabilities, readily available telemedicine support, efficient management of medical supply chains, and robust clinical governance. By incorporating these elements, we ensure that immediate medical assistance is readily accessible in remote and challenging offshore environments, mitigating potential risks to employee health.
Additionally, our approach involves implementing risk management strategies, such as conducting thorough health risk assessments and regular occupational health checks. By proactively identifying and addressing potential health risks, we create a preventive framework that prioritises employee well-being and minimises the likelihood of medical emergencies.
Egypt’s remote and challenging work environments often include offshore and desert locations. Could you elaborate on the role of telemedicine and digital health solutions in providing remote medical support to workers in Egypt’s unique work settings? How do these technologies improve the safety and welfare of employees in this specific geographic context?
In remote areas, telemedicine and digital solutions serve as crucial pillars for supporting the workforce. These technologies provide medical professionals with the opportunity to access real-time consultations from their colleagues, thereby emulating the collaborative environment typically found in traditional hospital settings. Moreover, these digital solutions facilitate the monitoring of employees’ health, allowing employers to assess the overall health status of the workforce. By doing so, these technologies aid in predicting disease trends and allocating resources efficiently to address health concerns.
For instance, International SOS has developed a range of support models, particularly telemedicine and top-side support, to address the unique challenges presented by remote and challenging environments. With a strong emphasis on data-driven solutions, our extensive experience of over 35 years in offshore medicine and global occupational health has positioned us as the preferred provider for comprehensive medical support in a remote setting.
Employee commutes are frequent in today’s globally integrated workforce. What suggestions do you have for businesses regarding travel health and safety, especially for employees working in diverse geographic regions within Egypt?
Given the frequent employee commutes within diverse geographic regions, businesses should prioritise travel health and safety measures. Comprehensive awareness is essential for travellers, enabling them to prepare and plan for their journey, including understanding prevalent disease trends and potential risks at their intended destination.
This preparation should also include knowing how to seek help when needed and being aware of the appropriate level of medical assistance available. Moreover, subscribing to a reputable assistance service is highly recommended to provide ISO 31030 aligned support to travellers. This necessity extends beyond global travel, particularly in the case of Egypt, where local knowledge holds immense significance, especially for international assignees within the industry.
Can you highlight some of the emerging trends and developments in occupational health and safety practices that are particularly relevant to offshore environments in the Egyptian market? How are these advancements positioned to enhance the wellbeing of employees and contribute to a safer working environment in challenging settings in Egypt?
In the Egyptian offshore market, various trends and developments in occupational health and safety practices have emerged, specifically tailored to the challenging environments in the region. We are witnessing an enhancement of digital support offshore, where clients are using digital tools – including electronic medical systems with smart data analysis. This would enhance the health promotion activities in remote locations. Alongside this, there is a growing emphasis on raising awareness about mental health concerns and providing crucial training to key personnel, enabling them to identify early warning signs and respond promptly.
The prioritisation of fatigue management has also been a central topic in both discussions and the practical implementation within these remote areas. Furthermore, there is more advocacy for mental health and resilience of the workforce, with employers increasingly viewing the Duty of Care as a strategic priority rather than just a reactive measure. These advancements collectively contribute to fostering a safer working environment and enhancing the overall well-being of employees in the challenging offshore settings.