Skip to content

Managing the risk of cardiac death

Identifying at risk recreational divers and snorkelers before they enter the water may help prevent a cardiac-related issue. Additional care and monitoring can be vital to ensure their safety.

Download a copy of this film (ZIP/MP4, 55MB)

Voice Over:

He became separated from his buddy, lost consciousness because of his condition, and drowned.

If the lookout had known about his condition, there would have been a plan in place to specifically monitor him while he was in the water, greatly reducing the risk of him drowning.

ON SCREEN TEXT: Managing the risk of cardiac death

Recreational dive and snorkel fatalities are often cardiac-related.

It's vital to identify people who are at risk of a cardiac event before they enter the water, and have a plan in place to monitor and assist them if they get into trouble.

Divers and snorkelers 'at risk' of a cardiac event are typically older, overweight, breath hold divers, smokers in poor health, or people with known cardiac-related medical conditions.

During the briefing process, you can identify 'at risk' divers and snorkelers by:

    • encouraging people to tell you about their previous or existing medical conditions
    • explaining the risks of diving and snorkelling with certain medical conditions
    • people's fitness levels and swimming experience
    • directly questioning people who are in these 'at risk' groups, or anyone exhibiting stressed behaviours.

Use simple language, translated messages or visual aids for people who don't speak English. Everyone in the group must understand your briefing.

If you identify 'at risk' divers and snorkelers in the group, they need to be monitored closely once they're in the water.

    • Encourage them to participate in guided tours or use flotation vests and pool noodles.
    • To make it easier to spot them, give them a brightly coloured noodle or snorkel tip.
    • Ask that they stay close to lookouts and supervisors.
    • Arrange for at risk people to buddy with another person so that if they get into difficulties they immediately have someone with them to help.

Remember, identify 'at risk' divers and snorkelers, then have a plan in place to monitor them closely and get help to them quickly should they get into difficulty.

Work safe. Home safe.

For more information visit or call 1300 369 915.

ON SCREENT TEXT: Workplace Health and Safety Queensland would like to thank Reef Magic Cruises Cairns, Dive Career Centre and crew for their participation in this film.

ON SCREENT TEXT: © The State of Queensland (Department of Justice and Attorney-General) 2014.

Copyright protects this film. The State of Queensland has no objection to this material being reproduced, but asserts its right to be recognised as author of the original material and the right to have the material unaltered. The material presented in this film is distributed by the Queensland Government as an information source only.

The State of Queensland makes no statements, representations, or warranties about the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this film, and the viewer should not rely on it.

The Queensland Government disclaims all responsibility and all liability (including, without limitation, liability in negligence) for all expenses, losses, damages and costs you might incur as a result of the information being inaccurate or incomplete in any way, and for any reason.

RUN TIME: 2:41