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Western Australian recreational scuba diving fatalities, 1992 to 2005

Authors


Correspondence to: Peter Buzzacott, School of Population Health, M431 The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009. Fax: (08) 6488 1188; e-mail: pbuzzacott@meddent.uwa.edu.au

Abstract

Objective: To investigate recreational scuba diving fatalities within Western Australia (WA) between 1992 and 2005.

Methods: Coroners reports for 24 diving fatalities were reviewed to determine anthropometry, certification status and breaches of safe practices for each.

Results: Certification status was known for 20 divers and of these six (30%) were uncertified. Certified divers breached significantly fewer safe diving practices than uncertified divers (p<0.01). Existing regulatory mechanisms require training certification only for dives made from commercial dive boats, yet the number of deaths involving shore dives or private craft (n=15) were triple the number diving from commercial boats (n=5).

Conclusion: Uncertified divers are less regulated and breach more safe practices than certified divers.

Implications: We recommend changes to existing regulations governing dives made from shore and private craft in WA, requiring that all divers be certified.

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