What Really Causes Commercial Diving Fatalities?
In the past, we’ve discussed how commercial diving jobs such as underwater welding might be among some of the most dangerous in the offshore industry. However, it’s difficult to confirm this because the most recent data on commercial diving death rates covers 1997 to 1989.
That data, released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that commercial divers had about five deaths each year. However, no detailed studies or data has been released since then. To compound concerns over diving safety, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has not updated its safety regulations for diving professions since 1978.
These facts add up to reveal one thing: there’s room for improvement for tracking safety and regulation needs in the commercial diving industry.
Are Diving Accidents Properly Investigated?
Kyra Richter, a commercial diver, noticed something in 2015 about fatalities reported by the Divers Association: only 251 of the reported 382 fatalities between 2002 and 2014 reported the age of the diver. She started tracking these numbers after hearing deceased divers blamed for their own accidents. People often claimed that divers died because they were too unhealthy or inexperienced.
She found that the average age of a person killed during a commercial diving accident was between the age of 33 and 42. In other words, it’s likely that these divers were experienced enough to not be completely at fault for their accident. Richter asserts that, while the industry could use stricter physicals, there’s a broader safety issue that’s too simplified by blaming experience and health. She argues that diving schools and the industry need to improve overall safety standards.
"These numbers could clearly demonstrate that the issue is not the diver’s lack of training or experience, nor is it the state of his health, but that companies are getting away with poor safety measures and investigations need some serious revision if they really mean to improve conditions for employees and not protect the interests of the company,” Richter wrote about the need for increased safety standards in commercial diving.
With proper reporting, research, and prevention, commercial divers could have their lives saved. Yet, the industry remains slow to protect this small but important sector of the offshore industry.
If you’ve been injured in a commercial diving accident or someone you love has been killed during one, call Arnold & Itkin LLP. A consultation with our commercial diving accident lawyers is free when you dial (888) 346-5024.