8 months ago

AD 2016 Q2

As we pointed out in the spring 2013 edition of the Alert Diver, even being a dive buddy has potential legal implications. So, to bump this up a notch, what about the diver training organisations themselves? Where do they stand? How do they relate to South African law? Are they all considered the same under our legal system in spite of the differences in organisational structures and training programmes? How does this affect their respective instructors and trainee divers from a legal perspective? These are not exactly simple questions. It is certainly true that the respective training organisations differ in a number of ways. However, this does not imply that there are necessarily differential legal implications for each of them. In fact, under South African law, the legal principles are common in all matters. Therefore, if you suffer a loss and you (or your estate in the case of a fatality) wish to recover damages, the legal principles would be applied commonly; whether you are driving or diving. Although not a frequent occurrence, there have been quite a number of law suits associated with diving injuries and damages in South Africa. This is not surprising, as the occurrence of law suits is really a function of “numbers”. As training increases, so do the chances of injuries and, with it, the chances of legal recourse. So, it remains wise to insure yourself, your equipment or your business in a proper and effective way. But before getting back to the potential differences amongst the training agencies, let’s first explore the foundational legal principles on which any civil claim would be adjudicated: inherent risk, negligence and duty to take care.


FROM THE SAFETY STOP LETTERS FROM MEMBERS JENNIFER IDOL CHEERS Alert Diver has a captive audience worldwide because of its storyboard, design, imagery and attention to detail. Your Winter 2016 feature by photographer Jennifer Idol, “My Journey to Dive All 50 States,” was a perfect example. Thank you for years and years of promoting awareness of our ocean planet and engaging the next generation to create a brilliant future for diving. — Ernie Brooks, Lacey, Wash. My congratulations to Dr. Petar Denoble on the Winter 2016 article “The Future of Dive Medicine.” It is a very clear explanation of genetic effects in medicine and a straightforward explication of molecular mechanisms in genetics. He is to be applauded. I would like to see more articles like this. — Michael Shwayder, M.D., via email SUNSCREEN SOUNDING BOARD In reply to your Winter 2016 article “Sunscreen Pollution,” I am saddened to hear that I have been polluting the environment, especially coral reefs. I am a Boy Scout as well as a diver, and we pride ourselves on being ambassadors for the environment. To find out that what we use to protect ourselves is hurting the underwater world makes me feel like I am not doing my part. I am glad to share that information with my fellow scout divers, and I have limited our polluting with the use of clothing that blocks ultraviolet (UV) radiation. I will talk with my dive shop to see if they carry a marine-safe sunscreen. I will also try to persuade my fellow divers to use clothing to cut down on pollution. I think this will help protect our own local dive environment, the fresh waters of the Midwest. — Robert Fagan, via email I recently returned from dive trips to Roatán and the Mayan Riviera. Increased education and awareness about sun exposure and its effects would go a long way to reducing pollution in our waters. I think aerosol sunscreens should be eliminated. I routinely saw sunburned people spraying themselves in gusty winds. 14 | SPRING 2016

Their reddish skin suggested the ineffectiveness of their technique (or the product), and much of the sunscreen blew onto other people or directly into the ocean. Having had some early warning signs of skin cancer I have taken some simple steps to reduce further effects of the sun, including the use of UV-protective clothing such as rash guards, hats and face buffs. When snorkeling, a full UV suit with a hoodie lets me play in the water without worrying about reapplying messy lotions, which, as mentioned in your article, are absorbed into the body with potentially negative side effects. In addition to being more effective, UV-protective clothing is also more cost effective. Just taking a close look at the scum on the surface of resort swimming pools will give you some idea what we are doing to our waters. — Scott Bodnarchuk, Beausejour, Manitoba, Canada My first reaction to Dr. Craig Downs’ article on sunscreen pollution on coral reefs was: “Give it a rest!” Recalling my own experience diving and snorkeling in Hawaii while wearing a skin suit, however, I remembered the futility of using sunscreen in the water at all. With my skin suit I was able to stay in the water for hours with no WRITE US Tell us what’s on your mind by writing to us at: MAIL Alert Diver 6 West Colony Place Durham, NC 27705 ONLINE Send email to: All letters included in this column are subject to editing for length and content. sunburn. These suits are available for around $35 online. — Mark Bergendahl, via email U.S. COAST GUARD NATIONAL STRIKE FORCE DIVE TEAM David Helvarg’s article “Always Ready: The U.S. Coast Guard Diving Program” (Winter 2016) states, “They had a rescue swimmer program that grew out of a helicopter rescue tragedy in 1983, but no dive program.” This is incorrect. I was one of the divers assigned to the U.S. Coast Guard National Strike Force Atlantic Strike Team in Elizabeth City, N.C., in the 1980s after having completed the U.S. Navy Second Class Dive School at the U.S. Navy base in Coronado, Calif. The U.S. Coast Guard National Strike Force dive team consisted of a 13-member dive team that had two diving officers and a mix of U.S. Navy-trained First Class and Second Class surface-supplied divers. As a dive team, we traveled and performed various diving operations such as safety diving at the dunker in Norfolk, Va., conducting emergency hazardous material diving training with other agencies and participating in the recovery of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986. The U.S. Coast Guard National Strike Force dive team ended in 1986, when the dive team was disbanded due to budget cuts. — Linda Moroz, via email I really enjoyed the article “Always Ready” about the U.S. Coast Guard diving program. It’s good to hear about collaboration between the recreational dive community and our armed forces. — Wes, Parsippany, N.J. EYE ALERT While diving I developed eye irritation that was so painful I visited my local emergency room. The medical staff said it looked like a chemical burn and irrigated my eye. After speaking with the doctor, it seemed that the most likely cause was the mask defogger I used. My eye is fine now and back to normal. In thinking about the injury, I believe the problem was that the defogger had gelled when I used it (it was cold [45-50°F] and windy). Thus, instead of applying a couple of drops, I applied a couple of globs. In all my dive and first aid training, I have never heard this mentioned as a hazard. If you use mask defogger, read the label, and take care when applying it. — Darrell Barabash, via email GOING STRONG I am extremely grateful to be able to continue diving at age 90. My comfort and confidence in the water are as good today as they were when I was certified 45 years ago. Of course, I am more selective about the areas and conditions in which I dive now. To minimize accidents, I believe the certification agencies should try to ensure everyone who dives is, first, psychologically capable and, second, a member of DAN®. I am certain my physical condition is a major factor as well — I go to the gym seven mornings a week for a vigorous hourlong workout. AD — James Monaco, via email RYAN CARPENTER ALERTDIVER.COM | 15

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