Failed to Retrieve Injured Diver Resulted in Death


A pearl company boss has blamed himself for not training staff on how to retrieve injured divers in 2012 when an employee died off Western Australia’s north coast on his second day on the job.

Victorian man Jarrod Hampton was an experienced scuba diver but had only completed one full day of drift diving for Paspaley Pearling Company on April 14, 2012 when he got into trouble off Eighty Mile Beach and was pulled to the surface unconscious.

Skipper Ronald Watson jumped into the water to bring the 22-year-old back to the boat and the crew then struggled to get him up the ladder because the deck was high.

Mr Hampton’s colleagues tried to revive him for about 50 minutes but were unsuccessful and a post-mortem concluded he had drowned.

Mr Watson admitted to the WA Coroner’s Court on Wednesday the winch used to pull up shell bags should have been used to lift Mr Hampton, estimating the time it took between realising something was wrong and getting him on deck was between five and 10 minutes.

Executive director James Paspaley, whose grandfather founded the business, told the court the delay was unacceptable.

Mr Paspaley, who had input in the Pearl Producers Association Code of Practice and is the group’s chairman, said his company didn’t hold twice-yearly drills for retrieving incapacitated divers, as recommended in the code, in 2012.

He admitted it should have, saying the company was wrongly focused on just the medivac to Broome.

“It’s got to be my fault. We read it. We missed it. I missed it,” Mr Paspaley said.

“It’s not a document that we didn’t read regularly.”

“When I read it, I think of how to get him from a ship to a hospital, not from the water to the boat.”

“It hadn’t crossed our minds … what was screamingly obvious after the 14th of April … how do we move a bloke from over there on to the deck?”

Mr Paspaley accepted it was his job to keep Mr Hampton safe as his employer.

He said the company had since improved its safety procedures, including assuming an emergency situation if a diver surfaces and gives no clear signal that they’re OK.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Watson admitted he never thought about how to rescue an incapacitated diver before the tragedy.

He said the company’s emergency procedures at the time were focused on deadly jellyfish stings and air supply problems.

“Personally, I never thought about it,” he said.

“We’re more focused on irukandji stings, bailing out and the compressor stopping.”

The court heard earlier in the inquest Mr Hampton had lost his working line on an earlier dive that day and told a colleague he’d almost drowned.

Paspaley pleaded guilty in 2015 to failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment and was ordered to pay a $60,000 fine plus costs of $5000.

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Source: AU News Yahoo


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