Editorial 137

The New Zealand Government is currently in the process of tightening up
businesses that provide adventure activities. Scuba diving is on their
list. This is in response to accidents/deaths that occurred while people
(some tourists) have been taking part in so called adventure
activities. The process started in October 2011 with the release of
Health and Safety in Employment (Adventure Activities) (HSE/AA)
Regulations. Some significant deadlines are fast approaching.


The regulations will cover dive facilities, instructors or charter operators who:

a) Directly provides the activities in person; or

b) indirectly provides the activities through an employee or other person.

Dive clubs fall outside these new regulations under certain criteria.

The process is basically as follows.

1)
Operators who were in business in 2012 needed to notify The Ministry of
Business Innovation & Business (MBIE) by 30 April 2012. Currently
if an operator has not notified by 31 December 2013 they will be shut
down/prosecuted. The MBIE website shows, at mid July, 60 operators have notified.

2) The business operation has to be audited at least every three years to maintain its registration to operate.

Point two is interesting: who will audit, what will the audit cover and at what cost?

The
Government is appointing auditors that understand what is required.
Businesses and individuals can approach MBIE to be certified as
auditors.

The New Zealand Underwater association is in the process of approval to conduct audits. As
we go to press NZU is about to release a document titled; NZU Safety
Guideline Scuba and Snorkel Diving. It covers every aspect of diving.
Many businesses already comply with MBIE (previously OSH) and The HSE
Act 1992 so may have most things covered already. The diving audit will
intensely look at every aspect of the type of diving activity that the
operation is providing.


Very briefly some points are:

–  Qualifications of personnel must cover the type of diving activity to be
done. Eg: drift, wreck, cave, photography, mixed gas, rebreathers etc.

–  All dive sites must have fully documented emergency procedures. The
auditor can demand to be taken to a dive site and be shown the emergency
procedures and to also assess risks that may be at the site and the
potential of their severity and probability of occurrence.

– The
paying client must be made aware of the risks of the dive. Eg: Before
setting off on an activity inform every client of the following
information:


Scuba is an adventurous activity involving risk of
serious harm or death. They must be aware that the operator cannot
guarantee their safety.

(Hardly encouraging words before you leap into
the water!)

– The dive site must be graded according to the difficulty or skill and experience level required to participate safely.

The list goes on and on!

Once
a document covering scuba and snorkelling has been approved it will be
available on the Activity Safety Guidelines website.

The cost of
being audited could be substantial depending on the size of the
operation. Rates for auditors in other adventure activities range from
$1000 to over $2000 per day. Depending on the auditor an operation may
be required to be audited annually until it is considered up to
standard. These costs will most likely be passed onto the diver who
is already paying substantially to participate in the sport.Some
operators I’m sure will just shut up shop. Some charter boat operators
will consider it all too invasive and demanding of their business and
time, plus the ever present potential for being involved in a criminal
action case! Many may consider switching to taking out fishermen.
Fishing is not considered an adventure activity.

It will be interesting to see how the diving industry reacts when the audits begin to bite!


Winter Diving


Winter
diving can be outstanding! Amazing visibility. Grab you 7mm wetsuit or
jump into a snug warm drysuit and get out there. You won’t be
disappointed!

Dave Moran, Editor

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