ALERT DIVER

Scuba Diver Australasia + Ocean Planet - - Contents - By DAN Asia-Pa­cific

Sadly, within the first four months of 2018, there have been at least three fa­tal­i­ties of divers/snorkellers caused by col­li­sion in­juries from boat pro­pel­lers; one each in Thai­land, the Philip­pines and In­done­sia. It is likely that there are ad­di­tional in­ci­dents, as many in­juries of­ten go un­re­ported.

Th­ese fig­ures are of great con­cern to DAN and should be of con­cern to all divers. We felt it was timely to re­vi­talise a safety cam­paign that fo­cuses on cre­at­ing aware­ness of pro­pel­ler safety.

Pro­pel­ler in­juries are un­for­tu­nately far too com­mon in div­ing ac­ci­dent reports de­spite of­ten be­ing pre­ventable. Many pro­pel­ler in­ci­dents oc­cur in re­mote lo­ca­tions where the med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties avail­able to treat in­juries sus­tained may be in­suf­fi­cient, and the li­cenc­ing and reg­u­lat­ing of boat drivers may be poorly en­forced or does not ex­ist. This is not to say that coun­tries like Aus­tralia and New Zealand are immune to such in­ci­dents; re­port­ing sim­ply high­lights a greater oc­cur­rence in other coun­tries of the Asia-Pa­cific.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN CAUSES OF PRO­PEL­LER IN­CI­DENTS?

Having re­viewed re­ported in­ci­dents from the past 10 years, there seems to be four main causes:

1. Boat op­er­a­tors un­aware of divers in the area cou­pled with in­suf­fi­cient look­out for the con­di­tions.

2. Boat op­er­a­tors at­tempt­ing to move the boat while divers were nearby in the wa­ter.

Divers/snorkellers sur­fac­ing in the path of boat traf­fic, fail­ing to use a flag or buoy, or un­der­tak­ing div­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in an area fre­quented by boats.

4. Divers be­ing pushed into boat

pro­pel­lers by waves or cur­rents.

Th­ese in­di­cate the need for a twopronged ap­proach to in­crease the safety of divers/snorkellers in re­la­tion to pro­pel­lers:

1. Work­ing with divers/snorkellers to in­crease their aware­ness of strate­gies to avoid pro­pel­ler in­ci­dents, such as:

• the use of clearly vis­i­ble dive flags; • the use of diver’s float­lines

and/or SMBs;

• be­ing vig­i­lant in avoid­ing ar­eas

with known boat traf­fic;

• avoid­ing sur­fac­ing or swim­ming at the stern of the boat with­out the crew’s knowl­edge;

• en­sur­ing divers fol­low crew in­struc­tions when at­tempt­ing to board the ves­sel.

Re­mind­ing boat op­er­a­tors that they need to be diver aware, by:

• having an ad­e­quate van­tage point

to see divers who are un­der­wa­ter; • recog­nis­ing the dif­fer­ent types of dive flags (and light sig­nals at night), which in­di­cate divers are in the vicin­ity;

• be­ing aware of the laws and reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing ex­clu­sion zones and speed lim­its that sur­round “Diver Be­low” warn­ings, if any. In the ab­sence of reg­u­la­tions, care and slow speeds are still re­quired;

• en­sur­ing they do not have the pro­pel­lers en­gaged while per­form­ing pick-ups; and re­ceiv­ing con­fir­ma­tion that all divers are clear of the pro­pel­lers prior to re-en­gag­ing.

If divers and boat op­er­a­tors work to­gether, pro­pel­ler in­juries and deaths can be re­duced, even elim­i­nated.

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