Counter-errorism in Diving: Applying Human Factors Training to Recreational Diving

This article was originally published in the Emirates Diving Association magazine on 1 Mar 2020.

There is a growing focus on Human Factors and non-technical skills in the global diving industry, much of which is being driven by Gareth Lock, the UK-based founder of the system described on www.thehumandiver. com. His book ‘Under Pressure’ has helped thousands of people worldwide to take a fresh look at the way they think about diving.

You may be wondering what human factors and non-technical skills are, as it’s not something we talk much about locally.

To demystify these terms, let’s first talk about what they are not. These are not diving qualifications – they are not going to take you deeper or teach you about new diving equipment or diving skills (hence the term ‘non- technical skills’) and they are definitely not ‘just another cert card’ to add to your collection.

Non-technical skills are all about improving decision...

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How safe is your diving?

What does safe mean to you? The dictionary defines safe as “protected from or not exposed to danger or risk; not likely to be harmed or lost” and in the context of diving, we often think about the physical risks. These can include decompression sickness, animal-induced injuries, separated from the team/boat, entanglement, lost within a cave system or running out of gas. These are all credible negative outcomes which we should be concerned about. In fact, a number of these appear in the 2008 research paper from DAN (Common causes of open-circuit recreational diving fatalities) which examined triggers, disabling event/injuries and causes of death in diving, and so they should be definitely considered as part of our risk management plans and diving plans.

 
But what about another form of safety? A form which Google under project Aristotle identified as the key trait of high-performing teams and without which nothing else really mattered. A form...

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“The standard you walk past is the standard you accept”

just culture reporting Jun 18, 2018

A few days ago a post was made on Facebook outlining the process by which a PADI student or professional could raise a QA claim against a professional or facility. One of the comments written below was 'Snitch!' This frustrated me because my perception based on 26 years in the RAF is that if standards are not being adhered to, then something needs to be said to bring those involved back up to what is expected. The reason is that the standards are there for the safety and performance of all involved. Of course, deviations occurred while I was serving, we made mistakes and undertook at-risk behaviours - we were human after all! Most of the time they were debriefed to find out not just why they happened, but also because innovation can only exist when deviation happens and if that deviation has led to an innovation, then let's learn from it and make what we have better. Feedback worked because, fundamentally, it was normal and expected. Aircrew were used to giving and receiving...

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"Human Error" or "Diver Error": Are they just an easy way of blaming the individual?

Human error is normal. Human error is part of the way we learn. It is almost impossible to remove human error from any system. Therefore, 'Human error' should not be the conclusion of an investigation. If it is, then we are not likely to improve the situation for the future. Depending on the outcome of the error or errors, the impact can be minor or it can be fatal, the problem is we don't necessarily know the scale of the issue until after the event.

In the last blog I covered the basic concept of a Just Culture and why it is essential to have this if we are to improving safety. We need to be able to talk about the errors or violations (at risk behaviours) that occur, and the reasons why it made sense to us at the time if we are to improve performance and safety, and reduce the likelihood of the same adverse event happening again. In this blog I am going to talk about 'human error' and the differences that exist within this overly-simple classification. The next...

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