UK Diving Incidents in Decline, BSAC Reports

BSAC has monitored and reported on Diving Incidents since 1964 in the interest of promoting diving safety.

2014 has seen 216 UK diving incidents reported. This continues the decline in reported incidents first recorded in 2012. In the years 2006 to 2011 the number of incidents reported had been fairly consistent at around 370. In the last three years the number of reported incidents has declined by approximately 60 reports per incident reporting year.

This decline in reported incidents could be as a consequence of one, or a combination, of the following: A normal amount of diving has taken place but: It has been safer and fewer incidents have occurred; a normal number of incidents have occurred but fewer have been reported; less diving has taken place and thus fewer incidents have occurred, leading to fewer incidents and reports.

There are some trends identified in this report that indicate that there are improvements to diver safety with respect to decompression illness and buoyancy control and also a reduction in boating incidents. In combination these three factors account for a significant proportion of the fall in incident numbers this year. The only type of incident not in decline is the number of divers lost on the surface.

Normally the distribution of incidents by month follows a sinusoidal form with the lowest number of cases in December and January, which rises initially in March or April depending on when Easter falls and then to a peak in June and July. This year the number of incidents follows a similar pattern except that the usual rise in incidents during the spring period is absent and the overall number is lower.

In 2013, the expected rise in incidents during early spring was also absent and at the time this was attributed to the unusually poor weather which would have deterred many from going diving. This was the most plausible explanation for the drop in numbers of reported incidents in that period. It would be hard to find such justification in 2014 as the weather in the early part of the year was not likely to have deterred divers from venturing out. It is possible that divers are being more careful at the beginning of the diving season and heeding the advice given over many years to start slowly after the winter break.

It is to be expected that the total for September is lower than reality as a result of the time that it takes for reports to reach us. The cut-off period was extremely tight this year because of the timing of the Diving Officer’s Conference and this partially explains the drop in August and September. Reports received post cut-off are included in the database for future research purposes but they are not included in the annual report.

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