HSE issues MoD with Crown Censure following death of military diver
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been issued with a Crown Censure by the HSE after a military diver died during training.
Lance Corporal George Partridge, aged 27, was brought back to surface after he stopped responding to lifeline signals while he was underwater. He was sadly pronounced dead after CPR was performed. He had been on a training course at the National Diving and Activity Centre in Chepstow on 26 March 2018. Lance Corporal Partridge and his dive buddy were tasked with attaching a distance line from the base of a shot line to the underwater wreck of a helicopter at a depth of 27m. When he was recovered his cylinders were found to be empty.
HSE served two Crown Improvement Notices relating to the failure to train all army divers how to undertake air endurance calculations and to assess the risk of a diver running out of air.
Julian Turvey, a HSE Inspector who specialises in diving, said: “This was a tragedy for all concerned however just like any other employer, the MoD has a responsibility to reduce dangers to its personnel, as far as they properly can. The scenario of a diver running out of air is a very real risk that needs to managed.”
By accepting the Crown Censure, the MoD admitted breaching its duty under Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 in that they failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all its employees, including George Partridge, in relation to the risks associated with diving exercises.
The MoD cannot face prosecution in the same way as non-Government bodies and a Crown Censure is the maximum sanction for a government body that HSE can bring. There is no financial penalty associated with Crown Censure, but once accepted is an official record of a failing to meet the standards set out in law.
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