Generic task-related occupational requirements for Royal Naval personnel

J L J Bilzon, E G Scarpello, E Bilzon, A J Allsopp

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Physical tests and selection criteria have historically been used by many military organizations. However, the standards associated with them have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. This paper describes a series of experiments that were conducted to establish task-related occupational tests and standards (TBTs) for Royal Naval (RN) personnel. A total of 172 (106 male and 66 female) RN personnel volunteered for these experiments, which were designed to: identify the anthropometric requirements for operating various safety hatches and doors on board a RN Frigate (TBT1); quantify the metabolic demands of shipboard firefighting tasks and establish an aerobic fitness standard (TBT2); and identify a battery of tests to predict performance of shipboard casualty-carrying tasks (TBT3). Whilst all subjects completed the criterion tasks during TBT1, performance of the bulkhead door (BD) escape task was related to height (r = 0.50- 0.62, P < 0.05) and vertical reach (r = 0.42-0.54, P < 0.05), with shorter subjects struggling to perform the task. During TBT2, the mean metabolic demand of representative firefighting tasks was 38 ml/min/kg, which must be sustained for 20-30 min. Finally, a battery of tests incorporating measures of lean body mass, fat mass, standing broad jump, 20 m sprint, press-ups, sit-ups and grip strength produced a high correlation (r = 0.89, P < 0.01) with casualty-carrying task performance. From the results of these experiments, it is recommended that RN personnel perform the BD simulation task at the recruitment stage (TBT1), to prove that they possess the anthropometric characteristics commensurate with survival at sea. Secondly, personnel should be frequently screened to ascertain whether they have the maximal aerobic power (41 ml/min/kg) commensurate with shipboard firefighting for 20-30 min (TBT2). Finally, they should perform the battery of proposed tests and score at least 34 points, in order to establish whether they have the anaerobic and strength capacity commensurate with shipboard casualty-carrying tasks (TBT3).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-510
Number of pages8
JournalOccupational Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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