Head counts

Tragically, divers and snorkellers have been left behind by dive and snorkelling vessels. Anyone who uses a vessel to transport people to a diving or snorkelling site must be certain that all people on board are accounted for before the vessel departs from each site.

Before the vessel departs to the site, ensure that:

  • every person on board is counted twice and independently by different crew persons
  • a written record of the count is made
  • the count is verified by signing the record.

Any changes to the numbers of persons on board during the trip (e.g. by people joining the vessel from another vessel) must be counted, verified and a new total on board recorded.

Before each vessel departure from the site, ensure that:

  • every person on board is counted twice and independently by different crew persons
  • a written record of the count is made
  • the count is compared with the previous count to ensure they agree
  • the count is verified by signing the record.

A headcount record template is available for use in Appendix 1 of the Recreational Diving, Recreational Technical Diving and Snorkelling Code of Practice 2011 (PDF, 413.64 KB).

Where possible, use active counts, such as roll calls or signature sheets, because they involve the people being counted. Passive counts, such as a head count, do not involve the people being counted and are more likely to fail if not carried out diligently by the crew. Using different counting methods is a way of cross checking the counts.

All counts work best if they are explained in advance to the people being counted. Advice should be available in other languages if required. The relevant crew should be trained in the counting procedures to be followed and supervised to ensure counts are carried out diligently.

If a count reveals that someone is missing, the missing person emergency plan should be followed.

Last updated
05 December 2016