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Kent supervisor fined for harbour dive failings

Date:
5 February 2013

The supervisor of a diving project at Ramsgate Royal Harbour Marina has been fined for failing to ensure a standby diver was ready to enter the water in the event of an emergency.

Duncan Gill, from Dover, was working for a diving company contracted to undertake an underwater inspection of the marina on 26 September 2011 when concerns were raised about the standard of his operation by a fellow diving supervisor on a neighbouring quayside.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated and found that the standby diver was not in a state of immediate readiness to provide assistance to the diver in the water.

The standby diver should have been fully dressed and kitted up to enter the water with his diving helmet in hand or close by. However, he was only in his dry suit, which put the diver in the water at serious risk had he required urgent assistance.

Canterbury Magistrates’ Court heard today (5 February) that Mr Gill had previously been served with a Prohibition Notice by HSE in October 2010 for a similar failing as a diving supervisor. His employer, who does not want to be named, had spent time retraining and mentoring him before allowing him to continue in his role, but Mr Gill ignored the guidance given.

Duncan Gill, of London Road, Dover, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £2,000 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Diving at Work Regulations 1997.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Bill Chilton said:

"The diving supervisor has a critical role to play in ensuring that a dive is conducted in such a way that the safety of the divers in the water is protected at all times.

"It is reasonably foreseeable that a diver may require urgent assistance from a standby diver should an emergency unfold, and therefore, the standby diver should be ready and able to enter the water in seconds.

"Yet that did not happen on Mr Gill’s watch, and this clearly compromised safety. He should have known better having previously been warned about his conduct as a supervisor, but he ignored the trust, training and guidance of his employer to repeat the same failings."

Further information on diving safety can be found online at www.hse.gov.uk/diving

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Regulation 10(1)(i) of the Diving at Work Regulations 1997 states: "The supervisor shall, in respect of the diving operation for which he has been appointed as supervisor, ensure that it is carried out, so far as is reasonably practicable, without risk to the health and safety of all those taking part in that operation and of other persons who may be affected thereby."

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