According to OSHA, there is an average of six to thirteen commercial diving fatalities every year. That may not seem like much, but there are only around 10,000 employees in this profession, so the ratio is much higher than it is for other industries.
One of the most common causes for diver deaths comes in the form of differential pressure, better known as Delta P. These can occur in multiple areas underwater, but most end up near a water control structure that creates a vacuum due to a hole or crack in the structure. The high pressure can suck in the diver and trap them until they drown.
It’s a major problem for divers because these vacuums are very difficult to detect until it’s too late. There are several precautions that swimmers and their employers can take before someone makes a disastrous dive.
Test the waters
To avoid going in the water blindly, commercial divers should tie a bag to a long rope and take it around the water to detect any possible leaks. While many often fill it with sand, clay bags are recommended because clay doesn’t disintegrate no matter what type of bag you use.
Don’t go alone
Commercial divers should not try to operate alone as it is, but going into the water for the first time is an especially dangerous moment to do so. Even if the bag test appears to work, there might have been one area the bag missed. Keep close communication with the people above the water or go in with another diver so that someone can call for help quick if you or a colleague encounter a problem down there.
Take steps to prevent tragedies
If there are clear signs of differential pressure in your work area, you need to warn coworkers and others in the area immediately and find ways to get rid of the leak or keep others away from it. Here are some ways you can make the area safer:
- Balance out the water levels
- Redirect the currents
- Put up warning signs
- Clog the leak
- Install a protective box around the leak
Employers for commercial divers are responsible for monitoring the workplace to determine if there are any immediate threats to their workers. If you or a loved one suffer because they overlooked this common underwater obstacle, contact an attorney that has experience aiding maritime workers.