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Queensland Government Establishes Recreational Scuba Safety Study Group; 'A Proactive Initiative'

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QUEENSLAND, Australia -- Industrial Relations Minister Cameron Dick today announced the establishment of an industry reference group to help review Queensland’s recreational diving safety codes.

Mr Dick said the dive industry in Bundaberg is becoming increasingly popular with the large numbers of tourists and backpackers working in the local area.

“Queensland has an international reputation as the home of some of the safest and most spectacular dive experiences in the world,” Mr Dick said.

“The establishment of the Recreational Diving Reference Group by Workplace Health and Safety is a proactive initiative to develop even stronger awareness throughout the industry about the benefits and necessity of strong safety standards.

“We are sending a clear message that safety is, and must remain, the number one priority of the Queensland Dive Industry, so we can keep our reputation as a world-class dive destination which people from all over the world can enjoy.

“The group will be made up of key industry figures from all three of the main recreational diving regions in the state – Cairns and Port Douglas, the Whitsundays, Wide Bay and South East Queensland,” he said.

Mr Dick said the group will be comprised of employers and unions, small and large recreational diving tour operators, diver training companies and technical experts.

“With the tourism industry facing hard times as a result of the global economic crisis, it is critical Queensland maintains its reputation as a safe diving and snorkelling destination,” Mr Dick said.

“The group will review of the Recreational Technical Diving Code of Practice 2006 and the Compressed Air Recreational Diving and Snorkelling Code of Practice 2005, which provide practical advice on how to manage risks.

“Leading dive operators from across the state attended Ministerial Roundtables held by WHSQ for the industry in January and July to discuss emerging issues and how safety standards could be further improved in the industry,” he said.

Since the July meeting the Recreational Diving Reference Group has:

  • recruited and trained an Inspector to join the team of specialist diving inspectors dedicated to servicing the Queensland dive industry;
  • undertaken a program of visits to coastal regions to undertake proactive information advisory and assessment work;
  • provided technical support and guidance to other WHSQ regions in response to diving and snorkeling incidents and complaints; and
  • provided technical advice on existing recreational diving codes of practice.
Mr Dick said the Queensland dive industry has a world class safety record, with the lowest dive fatality rate of any location in the world.

“Our recreational dive industry is the most strictly regulated of any region in the South Pacific and Asia. It has been covered by Workplace Health and Safety Regulation since 1989,” he said.

“The trend in the total number of diving and snorkelling fatalities has been declining since 2002, evidence that our approach to safety is working.

“The annual death toll has steadily decreased to 3 in 2008 (all snorkelling) down from a peak of 11 (8 snorkelling and 3 diving) in 2002.

“But we must do more because, while the annual death toll has steadily decreased since 2002, on average there are between 4 and 6 diving and snorkelling fatal workplace incidents each year.

Mr Dick said the Government is continuing to work with the industry to ensure safety remains the absolute priority.

“We are determined to ensure Queensland maintains its international reputation as the home of some of the safest and most spectacular dive experiences in the world.

“The industry is important to the Queensland economy, with around 1.2 million domestic and international visitors undertaking recreational diving and snorkelling activities each year,” he said.

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