Are Britain's divers getting out of their depth?

THE Health and Safety Executive is investigating the death of a scuba diver earlier this week and may prosecute the diving school involved in the accident which has prompted renewed fears about the safety of the sport in this country.

The diver, a 34-year-old married man from south London, drowned eight miles out in the Channel, off Littlehampton, West Sussex. Four of the eight other divers in the party were rushed to hospital suffering from the bends after surfacing too fast without decompression stops. They were diving at a depth of 90 feet.

An increasing number of Britons are going on diving holidays abroad. When they return home many decide to explore the UK waters. What some fail to realise is that diving in Britain is often far more demanding than on a coral reef. Visibility is poorer, the temperatures are lower, and the currents are worse. Inexperienced divers are failing to take account of these factors and are going beyond their skill levels and diving without adequate support.

Graeme Gourlay, who set up the magazine Dive International two years ago, said: "If you're trained in the Red Sea it will be made crystal clear to you that you are trained to dive in similar circumstances, not in a cold water gravel pit in England." However, the certification card which many divers gain after a course abroad involving around 10 dives - two of which take place in a swimming pool - allows the holder to dive in any waters.

"Maybe the rules should be changed and people who have learnt to dive in more benign environments shouldn't be allowed to dive in the UK on their own -- or even with a buddy - until they have done more supervised dives," suggested Mr Gourlay.

Diving does not feature in the top 10 list of risk sports. Last year there were 16 deaths from diving in Britain. However, this figure could be reduced if more divers were to join the British Sub-Aqua Club, the UK's governing body for sports diving, believes the club's vice-chairman, David Roberts.

He said: "What tends to happen is people who have diving experience in only one site walk away with a ticket that allows them to dive anywhere in the world. Our training programme requires people to experience a range of conditions before being certified."

One of the deaths at Leicestershire's Stoney Cove inland site last year involved a diver with only four open water dives in his logbook and those had been undertaken in Malta.

A spokesman for the HSE, which is investigating whether in Wednesday's accident the instructors breached the Diving At Work Regulations 1997, said: "Diving is a growing sport, along with windsurfing and paragliding. Just as with other adventure sports, when you get into difficulties and you aren't prepared things can go wrong quite rapidly and have disastrous consequences."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions