12 violations preceded golfball diver’s death

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A scuba diver died while retrieving lost balls from a golf-course lake in north Florida last December – and now the company that had employed him only three days earlier is facing fines of US $55,870 (about £46,500) after being accused of 12 health & safety violations.

Also read: Company fined £380k for endangering divers

The US Department of Labour’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has cited the company Ballhawker of Florida for “serious violations” following an investigation into the death at the Ponte Vedra Beach course in Jacksonville.

The cause of death of the unidentified 26-year-old diver was not given. When he proved unresponsive, another Ballhawker employee had pulled him out of the water and asked a passing golfer to call the emergency services. The victim was pronounced dead after being taken to hospital.

Ballhawker was set up last August and describes its activities as “professional golfball recovery & recycling”. Although its website claims that “we leave nothing to chance to ensure the safest and most productive dives”, OSHA safety inspectors found that the company had neglected to follow required safety standards.

It had failed to train divers to handle assigned tasks safely, including using equipment, or to be able to administer CPR, said OSHA. It had not provided a first-aid handbook or resuscitation device at the dive-site, nor had it developed or maintained a safe-practice manual. 

There had there no continuous monitoring or supervision of diving operations, and no operational communication system between dive-team members.

Diving equipment and components were not checked before each dive, nor were air-compressor systems tested for air purity every six months as required. Diver depth gauges were not used and there had been a general failure to comply with pre-dive requirements prior to operations.

The inspectors also found that Ballhawker had failed to keep records of its workers or of job details such as designated supervisor; date, time and location of job; and water and surface conditions.

“Ballhawker ignored safety standards and a young man lost his life,” said OSHA acting area office director Erin Sanchez. “Commercial divers are exposed to a variety of hazards, and it is an employer's responsibility to not start a dive until it is safe.” The company has the right to appeal.

Also on Divernet: Golfball Diver Dies In Antrim, Alligator Grabs Golfball Diver


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