Each month the PADI Quality Management team continues to bring you tips on how to maintain and improve safety in your professional diving activities. This month we heard from Quality Management Consultant Kim Ngan.
Welcome to the New Year from your Quality and Risk Management team. In 2019 we are going back to basics to dig into the fundamentals of risk management practice. We will present seminars and webinars throughout the Asia Pacific region that will examine how to evaluate risk and then how to treat that risk in a scuba and snorkeling context. We will consider how to implement simple and pragmatic methods to reduce your physical and legal risk. We will introduce a way to evaluate risk using a three-prong approach, ‘EAP’ or ‘Environment – Activity – People’. Watch this space for more information.
Through articles in Surface Interval, we will bring you tips on how to maintain and improve safety in your professional diving activities.
SCUBA Risk Management – Back to Basics
“Scuba diving is like driving a car. If you’re careful and pay attention it’s a very safe activity, but if you’re not it can be dangerous.” – Ronnie Prevost
Before you become a dive professional, do you remember being thrilled by simply diving to 10 metres? Breathing underwater, seeing the amazing marine life and experiencing weightlessness were new and exciting experiences for you.
Soon you became a PADI Divemaster, then a PADI Instructor and you began diving with your own open water students or certified divers. You might have even been taking these students or certified dives to lovely sites such as Chumphon in Koh Tao, Norman Reef in the Great Barrier Reef, Crystal Bay in Nusa Penida, or The Poor Knights in New Zealand. You found it was quite easy to dive deeper yourself. The water was often warm and clear and you had to pay special attention to stay within your no-decompression limits. It could also have been easy to forget that your students or newly certified divers could get a still buzz under the water at 10 metres.
Depth, Ratios & Good Judgement – The EAP Method
We know that things usually go wrong when we are not paying attention. Remember, we have a duty of care to students in training courses and to customers in recreational dives. Conduct a risk assessment before each and every dive, while also continuing to assess, evaluate and take into account any changing variables, during the dive. The ratios and depths listed in your PADI Instructor manual are maximum limits. This means that you must apply sound judgment in determining what is appropriate for training each time you conduct a course or program. You can conduct the PADI Adventure Deep Dive, for example, to a depth of between 18 metres and 30 metres. The depth you choose, within this allowable range, should be based on the environment, the activity and the people undertaking the activity.
E for Environment
The dive site you visit every day does not necessary have the same conditions every day. Supervising four Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) participants on a calm and sunny day with 20 metre visibility is very different from diving with the same number of DSD participants on the next day if it becomes rainy and windy with 5 metre visibility. What would you change in the way you conducted the dive?
It’s your professional responsibility to conduct an environmental risk assessment by evaluating variables such as – temperature, visibility, water movement, surface conditions and the entry and exit area. Use good judgment at all times. When conditions are marginal, make conservative decisions by reducing ratios, going to an alternate site, or even cancelling the dive.
A for Activity
What is the activity? Does it involve risks that are different to other activities? Deep dives, Discover Scuba Diving, overhead environments, drift dives and other dive activities have risks specifically associated with the activity itself. Evaluate these risks and if appropriate change the ratio, depth, or other variables.
P for People
The individual ability of each of your student divers, the certifications they hold, the group size, the number of certified assistants available and your personal abilities and limitations, should all be considered when evaluating the ‘P’ of the ‘People’ factor. You should reduce the ratio or the depth from the maximums if appropriate. Your PADI professional training and experience, plus the PADI resources – such as PADI manuals, references, Training Bulletins, The Undersea Journal, the PADI Pros’ Site and staff at your PADI Regional Headquarters – are all available to help you stay up-to-date and assist you in making sound judgements when you have any questions.
Why not start off the New Year by refreshing your knowledge about risk management from these references. Have a great 2019 and safe diving everyone.
Kim Ngan | Quality Management Consultant, PADI Asia Pacific.