A diving company based in Bristol have been fined after one of their customers died on an organised dive in Dorset. The inexperienced diver, Janek Karon, was allowed to dive by the instructor and director of the company, Ian Johnson.
Mr Karon had some serious medical conditions when he went for the training and recreational diving weekend during October 2008. This week Bristol Crown Court were told that when the Sunday dive came to an end Mr Karon was found on the surface, he was not responsive. Mr Johnson who had been trained under the Professional Association of Diving Instructors standards called for help from the skipper of the boat dive and the men managed to get Mr Karon onto the boat.
Sadly despite efforts to resuscitate Mr Karon he remained unresponsive and was transported to Dorset County Hospital by helicopter where he was pronounced dead. The inquest into his death discovered that he had passed away from drowning with the contributing factor being coronary artery disease.
The Health and Safety Executive investigated the diving company, Subaquaholics and found there were no medical screening forms held for Mr Karon. The forms should have been filled out and completed before Mr Karon was permitted to take part in any of the dives organised by the company. A legal requirement states that medical screening is required from all training divers as they must be declared medically fit to take part in the dives. If the form had been completed Subaquaholics would have been alerted to his coronary artery disease and asked Mr Karon to go and visit his GP for an assessment to determine whether he was safe to dive.
Mr Karon’s GP was interviewed during the investigation and she told the inspectors that she would not have passed Mr Karon as in a fit condition to dive because of his medical condition. The inspectors discovered that the deceased man had been obese with high cholesterol, high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease as well as the coronary heart disease for which he was being prescribed statins. In addition to the above medical conditions he also suffered with Raynaud’s Syndrome, a condition which causes the vascular system to shut down in the cold. It was also shown that Mr Karon’s 10 year old daughter was permitted to dive without being assessed by her GP despite her mother stating she had asthma and took asthma medication on her screening form.
The court was told that despite Mr Karon’s lack of experience he had dived more than 30m under the water. The guidelines of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors state that inexperienced divers should only dive between 18 and 30m. In cold waters the PADI also state that diving should be limited to 4m less.
The director and instructor Ian Johnson was fined £5,000 for breaching Regulation 10(1) of the Diving at Work Regulations. Subaquaholics was fined £10,000 for breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.