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Fatal shellfish diving accidents lead to renewed HSE warning

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For those employed as commercial divers, their work naturally carries a high risk.
Recently, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has undertaken investigations into two separate incidents involving diving for shellfish. In both cases, there were fatalities.
The HSE has published a set of guidelines which employers within the commercial diving industry are required to follow to ensure the safety of their teams whilst carrying out their duties. Adequate procedures must be in place to make sure diving activities are conducted in a safe manner and a plan prepared to deal effectively with any diving emergency.
The Diving at Work Regulations 1997
Any diving activity undertaken outside of the Diving at Work Regulations 1997 could pose a risk. Having straightforward measures in place to ensure emergency situations are handled successfully it a must. A dive supervisor must always be present and divers should be able to easily communicate to them should they get into difficulty. A diving project plan should be in place, a risk assessment conducted and emergency procedures prepared.
Shellfish diving teams can either be directly employed or self employed contractors. The HSE guide: Commercial shellfish diving in inshore water: Diving at Work Regulations 1997 sets out that teams should comprise a minimum of three: a working diver, a standby diver and a supervisor. The role of the standby diver is to provide assistance to the working diver should this become necessary.
Forth estuary accidents: HSE investigations underway
The two recent fatal incidents, at Methil and Largo Bay in the Forth Estuary, are both being investigated and the reasons for the deaths are unknown at this time. But if negligence was to blame, the families of the deceased divers may be able to make a claim for their losses.
Any breach of the HSE guidelines by those responsible for the safety of the diving teams involved in the incidents will be uncovered during the investigation and if blame has been apportioned, then it will be up to specialist lawyers to pursue compensation on behalf of the families.
Accident claims following HSE investigations call for expert legal representation, ideally using specialists from the specific field relating to the injuries sustained or the organisation being claimed against.
If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident caused by employer negligence which has been the subject of a Health and Safety Executive investigation, Stephensons’ specialist injury claim lawyers can help. For confidential advice and to find out whether you have a claim, call us on 01616 966 229.
By personal injury solicitor and Stephensons’ Partner, Kate Sweeney