When it comes to assessing risks in the oilfield industry, the usual focus is on mechanical, chemical, physical, and even biological and ergonomic risks. Psychosocial risks at work are usually disregarded or neglected. However, some psychosocial risks can be real problems for organizations and could have clear negative impacts on employee performance.
Assessing these risks and defining whether they are acceptable is the first step. If they endanger workforce health or morale, action must be taken to obtain positive outcomes and to solve the problems. An additional consideration is that problems derived from inadequate handling of these risks can constitute acute or chronic medical conditions, affecting employees in field operations, or increasing accidents or diminishing productivity for organizations.
An oilfield services company has been conducting workplace psychosocial risks assessments, using the simple but effective FPSICO questionnaire. The FPSICO questionnaire, from the Spanish Instituto Nacional de Seguridad e Higiene en el Trabajo (National Institute of Safety and Hygiene at Work; INSHT), is a tool for identifying and assessing psychosocial risks at work. Its aim is to provide information to identify these risks in a particular situation, taking into consideration the task, the time devoted to the task, and the structure of the organization, and then to diagnose psychosocial risks either for the whole or only a particular area of an organization from the individual questionnaires.
This paper discusses the results of a psychosocial risks assessment using the FPSICO questionnaire at the oilfield services company in a South American country, from the initial sampling through extrapolation to the whole organization in this country, for first-stage results and then a follow-up control four years later. Particular focus is placed on mental load (intellectual activity level required to perform the job) and temporal autonomy (inability to abandon the task and to self-manage time) based on the results of the initial assessment.