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Topic 68: Discuss Body Mechanics and use of Tools in an Offshore Drilling Platform

victor.adukwu's picture

Body mechanics describes how your body moves. Being aware of and practicing good body mechanics throughout your day may help prevent injury and reduce strain on your body. Whether you're sitting at a desk all day or working on a drilling platform, you can practice and improve your body mechanics to help prevent stress and pain and reduce wear and tear on your muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints.


Catriona Ogg's picture

From what I understand, the concept of body mechanics is inter-related with ergonomics and human factors, a topic discussed in one on your earlier blogs.  Body mechanics is more so to do with adjusting your body to fit the task rather than designing equipment to fit your body.  I won't mention body mechanics as it would pertain to slips, trips and falls as I feel it is sufficiently covered in Topic 60, but I have listed some of the recognised best practice relating to body mechanics:

- Lifting: Holding the item close to your body, lifting with your legs and sharing a lifting job where possible

- Posture: Whether you're sitting or bent over awkwardly to do a manual task, an effort should be made not to bend the spine and neck more than is necessary. Regular breaks and changing position are recommended.

- Difficult access to plant and equipment: If a task is uncomfortable to do then how can it be made easier? Could a piece of equipment at ground level be elevated for maintenance so that no one has to be bent over for long periods of time? Can storing things on high shelves be avoided?

Ike Precious C.'s picture

This is a good one. I believe Body mechanics with respect to handling working tools has a great impact on the safety of workers in any workplace, whether the offshore drilling platform or process industries.

As Catherine rightly mentioned, this is closely related with topic on Ergonomics. Knowing how your body works with certain positions and knowing the uncomfortable positions that your body cannot perform in. But I believe this has to do more with the tool-handling workplaces. 

According to the TOTAL's Golden rules, "A Combination of poor body mechanics when handling an object or using tools can result in injury". From this, I have come to understand that poor body mechanics can also be as a result of wrong working tools.

To avoid such scenarios, the first thing that must be done is to assess the job and  know what is involved, the body mechanics, number of people, and the kind of tools required.

Companies should have standard job procedures for such jobs that require great care to be taken concerning Body mechanics.

Management of companies should ensure that the Right Tools are provided for the Right Work/Job Order.

Companies should also ensure they have staff who are trained in Body Mechanics at every point in time to offer advice, when needed.

Finally, management can also do with Notice and/or pictures at job/work points that require such great care. I remember the Subsea Engineering trip to Oceaneering where I found a notice stating that you must lift objects with caution with a picture showing the wrong way to lift heavy objects and the right way to lift heavy objects.

Thank you.

victor.adukwu's picture

Good contribution by Ike and Catriona. Let me add a little by stating some steps to practice and improve your body mechanics to help prevent stress, pain, reduce wear, tear on your muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. The following are the necessary steps:
1. Suck in your lower abdomen when sitting or standing and walking. This helps tone your core, or abdominal muscles, which help support the lower spine, which bears body weight. Thus, the stronger your core and abdominal muscles, the more you help your back do its job.

2. Lift carefully. When lifting any object, grasp it close to your body, keeping your abdominal muscles pulled in. When bending down to pick up an object, bend at the knees and lower the body as one unit.

3. Sit straight in your chair, especially if you work at a job in which you sit most of your day.

4. Change your position at least once every couple of hours, especially if you work at a desk all day.

5. Maintain a low center of gravity. This means resisting the urge to carry objects high in your arms or on your shoulders. Instead, try to keep carried objects at about waist level whenever possible so that you're not "top-heavy."

6. Walk with your buttocks tight and pulled slightly under and your abdominal muscles pulled inward and upward.

Emmanuel Mbata's picture

Understanding body mechanic is important for maximmum efficiency. Usin good body mechanic allows you to distribute stress evenly throughout your body as you work. Because concentrating stress in one part of your body, makes it more likely to injure the structures in that area. 

As it is rightly stated above, good body mechanics and ergonomics goes hand in hand and using good body mechanics is an important part of any injury prevention strategy. Provision of guidelines on good body mechanics to the workforce will definitely reduce injuries resulting from this and also increase workers efficiency.




Agba A. Imbuo's picture

Bad body mechanics and use of wrong tools has an important role to play in reducing the health and safety of a particular kind of job. A person who is always constrained doing a particular kind of job for a very long time, after a certain period will be exposed to high stress concentration which will eventually lead to fatigue. This is a source of major injuries in the industry and If not handled properly could lead to reduced productivity or a catastrophe .Some identified sources of bad body posture are:
• Lack of good housekeeping as it tends to constrain one to a limited working space
• Long exposure hours  to a particular job which increase boredom
• The use of wrong working tools for a job
To prevent this, there should be:
• Adequate breaks between jobs
• Rotation of job between workers
• Using proper tools for a job.



Body mechanics and good handling of tools all contribute to the good state of the mind when working offshore. Alot of chronic injuries being suffered by oilfield workkers are due to poor body techniques and improper tool handling. also, when working offshore the tendency to have drop objects from hand tools introduces injury risk at the wellsite. Also, improper use of hand tools can cause injuries to the body.proper training on body mechanics should be done for offshore workers and this needs to be enforced at the offshore platforms. Also, when correcting improper use of hand tools, the observer should correct the individual by explaining the dangers of his or her actions and not just passing a message across.


Uhunoma Osaigbovo

Subsea Engineering D/L

JIEFU's picture

I agree with  Emmanuel Mbata's point here. Some of the injuries are not caused by sudden accidents or lack of attention, but by accumulated invisible or unnoticeable bad habits. Simple example is that if professional drivers who don’t take regular effective rest after the long period of driving, they may only feel tired in the vertebra lumbalis (waist muscles) for the first few months or even few years. But the muscle is stressed and doesn’t have enough time to recover, and then the indirect injury may happen after a period of time. Other vulnerable part of body like wrist, neck and so on. Similar situation happens when conducting the offshore drilling work. The better solutions for this kind of accumulated injuries are first developing a good habit and posture during training. Then taking a good rest and having a good stretch after using a certain tool for a long time. Last but not least, the basic protection measure is necessary when another types of cumulated injury issue happens like the long-time exposure to loud noisy and strong light environment. The basic protection tools are like ear plug, glasses, gloves, wrist protector, and neck protector and so on.

Oghenekevwe Ovbije's picture

Good body mechanics enables our muscles function more effectively, prevent fatigue, injuries that leads to un-productivity and helps conserve our energy. To ensure the maintenance of good body mechanics, the following must be adhered to:

1.A base support must be maintained at all times
2.Bend from the knee and hips to get close to an object and keep back straight, do not bend from waist.
3.Avoid body twisting, turn your body and feet to change direction.
4.Seek assistance if the object is too heavy
5.Carry heavy objects close to your body.
6.Take breaks occasionally
7.Appropriate Personal Protective Equipments (PPE) should be used at all times.

Drilling operations involve activities that pose a lot of danger to the operators and the environment. We must ensure that the equipment/tools used for such operations do not have the tendency to harm us. The tools/equipments used must be checked for malfunctions, and they should only be used by trained personnel’s only.

Ojo Oluwayimika Joseph's picture

 The human body is composed of muscle, bone, tendons and ligaments all of which make up its load bearing and force generating components. In engineering terms, these components can be klikened to levers, pulleys and fulcrums. Body mechanics in the industry is a refers to how the body is moved while performing activities. Two major  methods have been developed to effectively and quantifiably determine the effect of using poor body mechanics and good body mechanics in the industry.The first approach uses computer modelling to compare the two methods. Both postureswere modelled, such that the biomechanical effects on the practitioner’s elbow, shoulder,hip, knee and ankle joints could be calculated. The force applied to the client, along withthe height and angle of application of the force, was held constant for the comparison.The second approach was a field study of massage practitioners to determine theirmaximal force capability, again comparing methods using poor and good body mechanics. Five application methods were tested at three different application heights.

It has been subsequently discovered that poor body mechanics can haven a major impact on the income potential of employers and could ultimately reach the point which causes the employee involved to quit the profession, and seek other, less physically demanding, employment as a result of fatigue or injuries.


Edward G. Mohr, CPE, CSP, NCTM. Proper body mechanics from an engineeringperspective




Ojo Oluwayimika Joseph


Ouil and Gas Engineering

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