Professional Conduct

In our ongoing series on quality and risk management issues we try provide information that can minimise the risks to divers and make diving as safe as possible. Safety includes not just physical safety but also emotional and mental safety. One such risk of emotional and physical harm is that of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Sadly in all industries there are some people that will take advantage of the situation to assault or harass others. Indeed there are some well-published recent cases of sexual harassment and assault involving well-known sports stars, business people, politicians, and actors.

PADI professionals are widely known for their empathy, commitment to diver safety and high degree of professionalism. The diving industry, however, is not immune to these issues. Though these behaviours are thankfully rare, they can occur. It is a responsibility of all members within the industry to do whatever we can to prevent this behaviour and if we witness it to take appropriate action.

It is every PADI member’s responsibility to ensure a safe environment for diving. PADI standards also require that we:

“Treat student divers and all those involved in dive activities with respect, regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, religious affiliation, disability or sexual orientation” Page 11 Commitment to excellence.

The PADI Training Bulletin from the fourth quarter 2015 addressed this area of concern in respect of customers and student divers. The bulletin offers excellent guidance for PADI members about professional behaviour, responsibilities, physical contact, respectful communication and harassment policies. The article also addresses the store’s responsibility and way to have good policies in place to both prevent and respond to these problems.

What is sexual harassment?

One definition is behaviour characterized by the making of unwelcome and inappropriate sexual remarks or physical advances in a workplace or other professional or social situation

This behaviour can range from inappropriate sexually themed comments, ‘jokes’, asking people personal information and persistent unsolicited advances. 

What is sexual assault?

 “Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual behaviour including physical contact and threats”

While it is rare that a complaint is made it only takes a quick search on line to find stories of both divers and dive professionals being harassed. Survivors of this type of behaviour comment that they were shocked and extremely scared because they felt their lives at risk. Some felt unable to take assertive action because being underwater they felt their personal safety was at risk.

Sometimes sexual assault occurs when divers are underwater in a vulnerable position. When this occurs underwater the person subjected to the behaviour can feel powerless and fearful. This can result in panicked ascents, breath hold ascents and serious physical injury not to mention the emotional impact of the event.

Responding to complaints:

  • Investigate, take the complaints seriously and do not minimise the event.
  • Seek advice (including legal advice) if you are unsure of how to handle the complaint.
  • Report it to PADI Quality Management at qa@padi.com.au.
  • Reporting an assault to the police or other relevant authorities is a way to try to prevent the behaviour from continuing. In many cases complainants choose not to report what happened to them for fear of repercussion and retaliation.
  • Call the behaviour out – Let colleagues and staff know that the behaviour is not OK

How to prevent the behaviour from occurring:

One way to prevent harassment is to create a culture in which everyone is treated equally. By minimising the sexism (intentional or not) in a dive operation we can create an environment in which everyone thrives.

Positive steps you could take:

  • Have policies that address how you will respond to complaints.
  • Be mindful of how you introduce your colleagues – use their name and don’t objectify them.
  • Don’t make comments on people’s bodies, how they look, or their personal life.
  • Provide privacy when people are getting changed.
  • When addressing each other use names – rather than descriptions “young lady” “big guy”.
  • Role model the right behaviours at the workplace.
  • Treat staff equally and with respect.
  • Support women diving – Have a PADI Women’s Dive Day event – what better way to show customers and staff that you support women diving.
  • Take down the posters of scantily clad women and men. Objectifying people in advertising does not support a fair and equal workplace.

By taking these steps you will encourage your staff and customers into a positive environment in which everyone is respected. Let’s keep diving safe for all divers!

You can learn more about this topic through the many resources available in your community. If you or someone you know has been the subject of unwanted sexual contact or harassment reach out to support services in your region. If you wish to report such behaviour to PADI please contact the Quality Management department at qa@padi.com.au.

February Tips from the PADI Quality Management Team

Each month the PADI Quality Management team continues to bring you tips on how to maintain and improve safety in your professional diving activities. This month we heard from Quality Management Consultant, Rebecca Wastall.

FACT OR FICTION

This month we decided to fire frequently asked questions to the Quality Management team to see if things are actually fact or fiction!

IF YOU BREACH STANDARDS YOU WILL BE EXPELLED

Fiction. When a complaint comes in, the Quality Management Consultant looks at all the facts and the member’s history. When members deviate from PADI Standards, most often unintentionally, the Quality Management program acts to get members back on track and help them avoid future problems. Deliberate, repeat offenders, on the other hand, are dealt with firmly and can face suspension, retraining and expulsion from the organisation.

THE QUALITY MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT CAN PROVIDE ADVICE ON STANDARDS AND BEST PRACTICE

Fact. The Quality Management Consultants are here to support you. We are happy to receive calls and emails concerning standards or best practice, all of which will be held in confidence and not disclosed to anyone without your consent.

A FLEXIBLE SKILL MEANS THE INSTRUCTOR DECIDES IF THEY CONDUCT IT OR NOT

Fiction. As defined in the Instructor Manual a flexible skill must be conducted during the PADI Scuba Diver and PADI Open Water Course. The flexibility element allows the instructor to choose the best time to conduct the flexible skill within the parameters of either the PADI Scuba Diver or PADI Open Water programme. One of the best examples would be the Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent where the instructor would choose the best location and conditions for the CESA on Open Water dives 2, 3 or 4.

A CESA LINE IS “OPTIONAL” IF YOU CAN CONTROL YOUR STUDENT

Fiction. The use of a control line to conduct the Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent is mandatory when conducting the CESA in the ocean as per the Instructor Manual at page 65. This skill is taught with a control line to make it realistic and safe. The control line is there for you to stop your student if they ascend too fast. It is unacceptable to overweight yourself or hold on to your student without a line to stop a runaway ascent. In addition please consider that a Surface Marker Buoy may not be of sufficient strength to act as a control line despite it being secured. Page 65 of the PADI Instructor manual clearly describes how to run this skill.

I CAN USE THE CONTINUING EDUCATION ADMINISTRATIVE DOCUMENT TO COVER A 12 MONTH PERIOD OF TRAINING AT ONE STORE

Fact. This form has been approved by the RSTC to cover standard liability for a period of 12 months if a student conducts more than one programme. This is providing they do not change the store the programmes are conducted at. A good example would be where a student takes both the PADI Advanced Open Water and then moves straight onto the PADI Specialty Diver Programme.

THE RSTC LIABILITY FORM PROTECTS YOU FROM ALL PUBLIC LIABILITIY CLAIMS

Fiction. The RSTC liability form only protects you from the “assumed” risks of diving. A good example would be the fact that scuba diving is conducted underwater and the student assumes any general risks involved with being submerged. It does not protect you from any actions that would be deemed negligent. A good question to ask yourself is “would a reasonably prudent PADI member act in the same way?” If the answer is yes it is likely that your actions are ok and you would not be found negligent. If the answer is no then you may be acting outside the normal parameters of diving and the assumed risks it holds. In these circumstances you could be held liable.

WHEN STUDENTS HOLD A FLOAT ON THE SURFACE WHILST THE INSTRUCTOR CONDUCTS A CESA FROM 6M BELOW THEY MUST BE SEPARATELY SUPERVISED

Fact. It is unacceptable to leave your students unattended during any training element of the PADI Open Water Course. The Instructor Manual requires direct supervision throughout. This can be found within the Instructor Manual at page 52.

AS A DIVE CENTRE I WILL NOT BE LIABLE FOR THE ACTIONS OF MY FREELANCE INSTRUCTORS

Fiction. If you engage the services of a freelance instructor to undertake PADI courses at your store you have formed a legal relationship. If anything were to occur and negligence found, a store could still be vicariously liable for the freelance instructor’s actions in the same way as if they were an employee. In essence, there is a relationship between you and the instructor which involves a contract of services. This contract would allow a diver to sue both the individual member and store in any claim of negligence.

WEIGHTS MUST BE DROPPED TO SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE THE EMERGENCY WEIGHT DROP SKILL IN THE PADI OPEN WATER COURSE

Fact. PADI standards do not allow you to pass your weight belt to your instructor or place your weight belt on the side of the pool in the conduct of this skill. If there are concerns about damaging the pool then use sand weights or soft matting to prevent damage. Make sure your students know why this skill needs to be mastered. They must understand in certain circumstances it could prevent an incident from occurring. See page p56 of the instructor manual for the full standard.

IT IS ACCEPTABLE TO HAVE MY STUDENTS STOP A FEW TIMES DURING THE 200M WATERMANSHIP SKILL IF THEY RE STRUGGLING TO COMPLETE THE SKILL IN ONE GO

Fiction. This must be a continuous swim as defined at page 53 of the Instructor Manual. Remember if your students are struggling with this component of the PADI Open Water Course you can consider the 300m snorkel instead. Never modify the watermanship skills. Failure to master watermanship could lead to serious incidents in the future.

All the best in your professional diving activities and Let’s Dive Safe.

Rebecca Wastall | Quality Management Consultant, PADI Asia Pacific.

Email: qa@padi.com.au

V-Insurance Policies Fully Endorsed by PADI & Approved for International Use

v-insurance - PADI - Insurance

As a dive professional, having adequate insurance should be a top priority. In Rebecca Wastall’s PADI Quality Management Tips article, she notes: “In today’s changing world I don’t think we can ignore the importance of insurance. Make sure you are protected as a dive professional. We live in litigious times and comprehensive cover should be at the top of your agenda.”

Litigation is a global issue, and we have seen dive related lawsuits filed in many locations around the world, including countries where liability insurance is not compulsory.  We strongly recommend that you protect yourself, and do so with a specialist dive insurance policy that is valid worldwide, fully endorsed by PADI Asia Pacific and has been designed to include cover and benefits essential to every diver.

The V-Insurance combined liability insurance policy provides that worldwide coverage (including USA and Canada) and is accepted by PADI Asia Pacific, PADI EMEA and PADI Americas.

V-Insurance Group is the only insurance broker that PADI Asia Pacific endorse.  They provide a customised range of insurance policies for PADI Asia Pacific members (Instructors, Assistant Instructors, Divemasters and Retail & Resort Association Members) which include Public Liability, Professional Indemnity, Legal Defence Costs, Crisis & Media Management and cover for Fines & Penalties. 

It is top level cover at a competitive price which offers true value and the right help when needed most.  In addition to the diving insurance essentials, ($10M Public & Products Liability, $10M Professional Indemnity), there are extra benefits included at no extra cost, such as cover for underwater scientific projects, film and media projects and liability for watercraft up to 15 metres in length.

Strong member support of the PADI Asia Pacific insurance program over the last 20 years has resulted in the availability of a policy at a competitive price that provides superior coverage and supports the PADI Risk Management initiatives. In the event of a serious incident or claim, the claims team behind our insurance program is the most experienced in the Asia Pacific region with over 20 years’ experience in the dive industry.  Service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with access to local resources to give you the help you need, when it is needed most.

The 2018/2019 PADI Asia Pacific insurance program and online applications are now available at www.padiinsurance.com.au

Should you have any questions about your V-Insurance policy please feel free to contact customerservice.ap@padi.com or padi@vinsurancegroup.com

January Tips from the PADI Quality Management Team

Each month the PADI Quality Management team continues to bring you tips on how to maintain and improve safety in your professional diving activities. This month we heard from Quality Management Consultant  Kim Ngan.

Welcome to the New Year from your Quality and Risk Management team. In 2019 we are going back to basics to dig into the fundamentals of risk management practice. We will present seminars and webinars throughout the Asia Pacific region that will examine how to evaluate risk and then how to treat that risk in a scuba and snorkeling context. We will consider how to implement simple and pragmatic methods to reduce your physical and legal risk. We will introduce a way to evaluate risk using a three-prong approach, ‘EAP’ or ‘Environment – Activity – People’. Watch this space for more information.

Through articles in Surface Interval, we will bring you tips on how to maintain and improve safety in your professional diving activities.

SCUBA Risk Management – Back to Basics

Scuba diving is like driving a car. If you’re careful and pay attention it’s a very safe activity, but if you’re not it can be dangerous.” – Ronnie Prevost

Before you become a dive professional, do you remember being thrilled by simply diving to 10 metres? Breathing underwater, seeing the amazing marine life and experiencing weightlessness were new and exciting experiences for you.

Soon you became a PADI Divemaster, then a PADI Instructor and you began diving with your own open water students or certified divers. You might have even been taking these students or certified dives to lovely sites such as Chumphon in Koh Tao, Norman Reef in the Great Barrier Reef, Crystal Bay in Nusa Penida, or The Poor Knights in New Zealand. You found it was quite easy to dive deeper yourself. The water was often warm and clear and you had to pay special attention to stay within your no-decompression limits. It could also have been easy to forget that your students or newly certified divers could get a still buzz under the water at 10 metres.

Depth, Ratios & Good Judgement – The EAP Method

We know that things usually go wrong when we are not paying attention. Remember, we have a duty of care to students in training courses and to customers in recreational dives. Conduct a risk assessment before each and every dive, while also continuing to assess, evaluate and take into account any changing variables, during the dive. The ratios and depths listed in your PADI Instructor manual are maximum limits. This means that you must apply sound judgment in determining what is appropriate for training each time you conduct a course or program. You can conduct the PADI Adventure Deep Dive, for example, to a depth of between 18 metres and 30 metres. The depth you choose, within this allowable range, should be based on the environment, the activity and the people undertaking the activity.

E for Environment

The dive site you visit every day does not necessary have the same conditions every day. Supervising four Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) participants on a calm and sunny day with 20 metre visibility is very different from diving with the same number of DSD participants on the next day if it becomes rainy and windy with 5 metre visibility. What would you change in the way you conducted the dive?

It’s your professional responsibility to conduct an environmental risk assessment by evaluating variables such as – temperature, visibility, water movement, surface conditions and the entry and exit area. Use good judgment at all times. When conditions are marginal, make conservative decisions by reducing ratios, going to an alternate site, or even cancelling the dive.

A for Activity

What is the activity? Does it involve risks that are different to other activities? Deep dives, Discover Scuba Diving, overhead environments, drift dives and other dive activities have risks specifically associated with the activity itself. Evaluate these risks and if appropriate change the ratio, depth, or other variables.

P for People

The individual ability of each of your student divers, the certifications they hold, the group size, the number of certified assistants available and your personal abilities and limitations, should all be considered when evaluating the ‘P’ of the ‘People’ factor. You should reduce the ratio or the depth from the maximums if appropriate. Your PADI professional training and experience, plus the PADI resources – such as PADI manuals, references, Training Bulletins, The Undersea Journal, the PADI Pros’ Site and staff at your PADI Regional Headquarters – are all available to help you stay up-to-date and assist you in making sound judgements when you have any questions.

Why not start off the New Year by refreshing your knowledge about risk management from these references. Have a great 2019 and safe diving everyone.

Kim Ngan  | Quality Management Consultant, PADI Asia Pacific.

Email: qa@padi.com.au