Parents of young man who died while drift diving reacts to news of planned safety code


Photo: joakant

The parents of a young pearl diver who died off the Kimberley coast of Western Australia in 2012 said they are overwhelmed by the announcement of a planned safety code for the pearling industry.

The couple had been calling for a legally enforceable WA pearling industry code of practice, which they believe would have prevented the death of their 22-year-old son.

According to ABC News, the Commission for Workplace Safety has decided to proceed with new laws, which will be submitted for ministerial approval by the end of 2018.

The couple, Robyn and Tony Hampton are hoping the new laws would be called Jarrod’s Law in honor of their son.

“We are so overwhelmed and emotionally moved… this is monumental news for us and for Jake and Travis (the victim’s brothers), and our extended family and friends,” ABC quoted Mrs. Hampton as saying.

“From the early days my aim was for change, and what I affectionately called Jarrod’s Law, so we can know the future for pearl divers is going to be safer.

“This news gives us so much joy because we’ve been waiting for a long, long time.”

An inquest into the death of the pearl diver revealed several issues with emergency planning and equipment. At the time of the tragedy, the pearling company did not have a written emergency procedure for the rescue and retrieval of an incapacitated diver from the water, and the crew on board the vessel had not practiced any emergency drills in preparation for such an event.

The pearling company that employed the victim was fined $60,000 in 2015 after pleading guilty to a charge of failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment for its drift divers. It was also ordered to pay costs of $5,000.

Soon after the diver’s death, the company introduced standard operating procedures and an emergency plan which assigns a role to each crew member for the recovery of an incapacitated drift diver, either underwater or on the surface. One crew member is tasked with keeping watch during the dive and another is capable of being a rescue swimmer. Rescue and resuscitation equipment is located at the back of the boat and emergency drills are practiced.

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