PADI highlights 5 safety points in response to fatalities

PADI safety points

Following several fatal incidents involving PADI professionals, the diver training organisation has issued a statement warning dive-centres and instructors of any agency against losing sight of safety standards and practices.

“Diver safety is each and every diving professional’s first and most important priority, because when it’s lacking, preventable tragedies can occur,” says PADI Worldwide CEO and president Drew Richardson. “Dive incidents ripple well beyond the victims. They are deep, personal tragedies also impacting families, friends and the entire global diving community – regardless of the diving organisation individuals are associated with.

“There is generally a reasonably low risk in diving when community, training-course and safe diving practices are followed but, when they are not, the severity of a potential accident will have serious consequences that could have been entirely avoidable,” says Richardson. 

“While most diving professionals put safety first, recent incidents where fatalities have occurred were not simple slips or forgetful moments. These tragedies resulted directly or indirectly from violating course standards, abandoning sound judgment and ignoring or over-riding obvious and accepted dive-community practices.”

Unnecessary tragedy

Incidents such as the death of 18-year-old trainee Linnea Mills while using a drysuit for the first time have been related on Divernet. PADI recently settled out of court for an undisclosed sum after a negligence lawsuit had been brought against it by the Mills family, along with the now-closed dive-centre, its owners and an instructor who has since been expelled from PADI

The dive-centre had already been the subject of legal action for an earlier fatality it was said to have failed to report to PADI.

“When a dive instructor neglects standards, disregards required equipment or flouts established practices, they not only increase the likelihood of an unnecessary tragedy, but they can also be difficult or impossible to defend reasonably,” says Richardson.

“These actions can also void professional insurance warranties, leaving provided coverage for defence and liability in question at best. However, when you follow standards and procedures diligently to the best of your ability, you greatly reduce risk. 

“And should there be an incident, your actions can be compared to these standards to defend that they were proper, reasonable and appropriately applied to the local diving conditions for the divers under your supervision.”

PADIs Freedive Safety Check5
Pre-dive checklist from PADI

5 safety points

Along with Richardson’s statement, PADI has shared five safety points for dive professionals that it says should “be at the forefront of every business decision, course training or supervision”. 

1. Course safety standards and community safe-diving practices must always be followed to the best of professionals’ abilities, says the agency, emphasising that the potential for an incident increases with any deviation from these.

2. Safety overlap is not superfluous: It is intentional that dive-safety procedures should overlap and repeat to form “layers”, because no single procedure can account for variables such as human error, and this approach closes the gaps, says PADI: “Incidents show that skipping seemingly repetitive procedures or disregarding seemingly ‘minor’ standards removes a safety layer that, in retrospect, would have prevented a tragedy.”

3. Safety is human: Safety standards and practices work when adapted to local conditions and to the diver’s ability, but rely on “conservative good judgment and reasoned application”, says the agency, underlining that, if in doubt, it is common sense always to select the more conservative option. “The basics of depths, ratios, equipment or procedures are ones that even Open Water Diver students would know are mandatory, so misjudgment from a diving professional in these areas is inexcusable.”

4. Safety procedures are dynamic: Standards and procedures have to be kept updated, because people, weather, diving conditions and circumstances vary, and technology, diving physiology knowledge and community practices change. “In general, there’s no reason or excuse for violating established dive training standards and procedures,” says PADI.

5. Always be “on duty” when it comes to safety: The actions of diving professionals must be “visible and unmistakable”, reflecting what is taught and following best practices without exception, says the agency, pointing to the danger of overlooking pre-dive safety checks: “Incident data and anecdotal reports suggest that tight checks would prevent many incidents and close calls. By conspicuously doing pre-dive checks as professionals, the industry can encourage other divers to do the same.” 

PADI is now providing a free downloadable Pre-dive Safety Check poster for its professionals to display on boats and in dive-centres, classrooms and pool areas.

Also on Divernet: Dive Like A Pro: Which Safety Gear To Carry, Learning From Useful Mistakes, Deploying An SMB



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