The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 requires that employers, including self-employed persons, prepare and revise as appropriate, adequate plans and procedures to be followed and measures to be taken in the case of an emergency or serious and imminent danger.
Prior to any diving taking place, a documented emergency plan must be prepared and must be kept available at the dive site until all diving activity has ceased. The plan must be site specific and identify and address any issues unique to the site that may compromise the ability of the support team and those assisting to gain access and deal with the emergency.
The diving contractor must ensure that there are adequate emergency, contingency plans and first aid arrangements in place.
What Should Plans Cover?
Plans should cover the actions required of each member of the dive team in the event of an emergency. The emergency plan should consider for instance, contingency plans for dealing with:
- missing divers
- rescue or recovery of an ill, injured or unconscious diver or team member
- emergency recompression of divers
- diving equipment malfunction / faulty or broken equipment
- loss of gas supply or vital support equipment including loss of communication
- diver over rapid ascent to the surface
- evacuation from a sinking vessel.
- aborting a dive
- difficulties in keeping the dive base stationary
- approach of adverse / severe weather or water conditions.
The plan should cover the provision of an effective means of emergency communications and contact details for medical personnel and emergency services such as the Coast Guard, ambulance service, nearest hospital (a map and directions may be helpful) and lifeboats. Procedures should include calling for assistance from the emergency services (a script that includes pertinent details such as the exact location of the dive site and that it is a diving emergency can be useful for someone calling the emergency services), including advance liaison with the services where appropriate.
Plans should be achievable and not be reliant on the intervention of the emergency services as the primary course of action. Whilst the use of the available emergency services may ultimately result, the plan should address the immediate actions required by the dive team at the dive site prior to the emergency services taking control.
The members of the team must receive adequate instruction, information and training in order to carry out the actions required of them. The plan must be readily available and familiar to all relevant workers and members of the dive team.