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Safety specialist Survitec is supplying the offshore oil-and-gas sector with the Virustatic Shield antiviral snood, following calls for better protection for offshore workers during helicopter transfer to and from their workplace.
Since social distancing is unfeasible during helicopter crew transfers, operators and governing bodies have been looking at ways of preventing the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
Conventional surgical masks are unsuitable for helicopter passengers due to the risk of foreign object debris (FOD) should rotor downdraught rip the mask from the wearer’s face. These masks can also risk interfering with other PPE equipment.
Oil & Gas UK (OGUK), the representative body for the U.K. offshore oil-and-gas industry, has been working with Survitec on the use of a snood-type face covering for the U.K.’s offshore workforce through its Pandemic Steering Group.
Ross Johnston, energy sales manager at Survitec, explained: “After OGUK approached us as the primary supplier of PPE and safety equipment to the aviation industry we identified the Virustatic Shield as a viable option to help reduce risk for all U.K. Category A and Category B flights.”
The snood has been developed to reduce pathogenic microbial intake into the human respiratory system. The fabric incorporates an antiviral coating laboratory tested to neutralize 96 percent of airborne viruses and reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
OGUK has confirmed it is supporting the roll-out of the snood-style face shield for workers travelling to offshore installations in the U.K. Continental Shelf.
OGUK HSE director Trevor Stapleton said: “All workers travelling offshore will be issued with a protective snood following their routine temperature check at the heliport. The snood will then be worn in the heliport and for the duration of travel both to and from the installation only. They are single use and personnel will be issued with a new snood for each trip offshore.
“The snood represents just one of the barriers being employed to manage COVID-19 across our essential workforce. Robust checks prior to mobilisation, temperature testing and testing are also in use alongside additional measures to protect the workforce whilst offshore including social distancing, staggered mealtimes, and where possible single person cabin occupancy.”
Johnston added: “We are doing all we can to support all sectors of industry in these unprecedented times through constant innovation and flexibility. By sourcing, procuring and supplying Virustatic Shield we hope to help reduce the risk for our customers and are able to better protect crews, passengers and offshore personnel.”
Survitec will supply helicopter operators directly and will include the snood at the same time as issuing crew and passenger lifejackets and immersion suits.
“Our heliport teams will provide passengers with instructions on how to correctly don the snood during the pre-flight safety briefings. The intended use is for outbound and inbound flights and Survitec will provide bins at the heliport for disposal after use,” said Johnston.
Survitec has procured more than 25,000 snoods to cover a six-week supply to offshore operators and heliports but aims to ramp up inventory to meet anticipated global market demand.