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Information and advice for recreational divers and snorkellers

As well as formal instruction for qualifications, recreational divers and snorkellers need to be provided with specific advice to allow them to participate in the activity safely. The health and safety of divers and snorkellers can be at risk if they have inadequate knowledge, skills or experience related to diving or snorkelling.

Information and advice can be provided by:

  • formal training and assessment
  • briefings or presentations
  • distributing brochures, signs and posters
  • using illustrated charts, diagrams and site photographs
  • presenting activities through films
  • providing translated materials or using translators where required.

Engaging with divers and snorkellers

Information and advice is more effective when delivered using varied media to engage with the participants different senses. Good briefings strongly emphasise key points using words, visual displays and touch, rather than being too lengthy.

Follow up a briefing with a 'meet and greet' to allow customers to discretely ask questions or confidentially discuss medical issues. This is also a good opportunity to assess and identify 'at risk' participants.

A variety of techniques and approaches, such as humour, may be effective with some customers but not with others. You will know if your briefing was successful if:

  • you are asked questions
  • people bring their concerns about their experience or medical conditions to your attention
  • people are observed doing the right things such as staying within the site boundaries.

View the humorous video Snorkelling  sense with safety information about medical conditions for snorkellers.

A standard briefing and medical advice form for diving and snorkelling is available in English (PDF, 5.55 MB) and thirteen other languages.

Information and advice for divers

Instruction provided should cover the following topics:

All divers

  • Procedures for accounting for all persons on board a vessel
  • Emergency procedures
  • Risks, first aid and precautions for marine jellyfish stings (if required)

Resort divers (in addition to dive training agency requirements)

  • mask clearing
  • removing and replacing the regulator
  • equalising the pressure in their ears
  • using appropriate hand signals
  • using an emergency ascent procedure which includes exhaling on ascent, and achieving and maintaining positive buoyancy on the surface
  • environmental conditions and marine life at the dive site (e.g. depth, currents, visibility and behaviour of marine animals likely to be encountered)
  • health and safety issues relating to the vessel (e.g. entry and exit points)
  • health and safety issues relating to dive site entry such as a beach, jetty, pontoon, river bank
  • location and roles of supervisory staff (e.g. dive instructors, dive supervisors and lookouts)
  • any other information required because the assessment shows the prospective diver needs such information to dive safely.

Certificated divers

A poster Plan your dive-dive your plan (PDF, 5.07 MB)  with information for certificated divers is available for your use.

Briefing should include the following topics:

  • boundaries of the dive site
  • environmental conditions and marine life at the dive site (e.g. depth, terrain, currents, visibility and marine life)
  • health and safety issues relating to the vessels and entry and exit points
  • location and roles of supervisory staff
  • to regularly monitor air levels and the minimum air content required for safe return
  • to dive in dive buddy teams
  • not to dive to depths greater than that to which they have been trained or have experience
  • their responsibilities as divers to dive safely and comply with the instructions of the PCBU
  • emergency procedures such as recall, distress and rescue procedures, and use of signalling devices
  • completing a buddy safety check before the dive
  • plan each dive consistently and conservatively using dive tables or a dive computer
  • the risk of nitrogen narcosis at depth and the need to move to shallower water if this occurs
  • avoid diving to maximum no decompression limits
  • ascend slowly
  • maximise surface intervals
  • do safety stops
  • be aware of standards for  flying or altitude exposure after diving
  • avoid dehydration
  • minimise exertion during and after diving
  • do not dive if feeling unwell
  • sign the dive safety log after returning from your dive.

In addition, if a certificated divers plans to undertake solo diving, it  may only be conducted under the following conditions:

  • that the solo diving activities are authorised by the dive supervisor
  • that the diver is appropriately qualified for the solo diving activities (note, a prerequisite for solo diving should include a minimum of 100 logged dives, a certification in solo diving, and be a minimum of 18 years of age)
  • that the diver is suitably equipped for the solo diving including a redundant gas system, an alternative ascent system, a redundant depth gauge and bottom timer and any additional equipment so specified by the dive supervisor.
  • that suitable solo diving procedures are in place including intended depth, planned bottom time, planned total dive time and any additional procedure so specified by the dive supervisor.

Information and advice for snorkellers

The five key safety messages to reinforce with recreational snorkellers should be:

  • There are serious risks associated with certain medical conditions, especially cardiac conditions.
  • Know your own ability and snorkel accordingly.
  • Use a flotation device to reduce your physical exertion in the water.
  • Snorkel with a buddy or as a part of a guided tour to be in visual range.
  • Stay close to supervising staff or other support and signal if help is required.

Instruction provided should cover the following topics:

  • advice about risks from certain medical conditions
  • selecting and using snorkelling equipment including:
    • how to adjust and fit masks, snorkels and fins
    • how to clear water from the mask and snorkel
    • how to use masks, snorkels and fins
    • what to do in the case of equipment failure
  • the snorkelling environment
    • the area where snorkelling is to take place and any relevant environmental conditions (e.g. boating channels, marine animals, wind and tide strength and direction)
    • location of lookout/s and snorkelling supervisors
    • location and use of flotation devices such as buoys and rest stations
    • the location and availability of life jackets, wetsuits or other flotation devices which can be used by snorkellers
  • dealing with certain problems
    • practising snorkelling beside a platform, boat, or in shallow water before venturing further afield
    • snorkellers being aware of their own limitations in the water and taking these into account when snorkelling
    • the communication system and signals between lookouts/snorkelling supervisors and snorkellers (e.g. signals a snorkeller can use to indicate he or she requires assistance, or how snorkellers are advised when to return to the vessel)
    • how to lift and keep the face clear of the water by moving into an upright position
    • how to use the buddy system (two snorkellers ensure they are always snorkelling within a short distance of each other and they watch out for one another)
    • if a person has not snorkelled before, cannot swim, or has any concerns about snorkelling they should discuss this with a snorkelling supervisor prior to snorkelling
    • abstaining from drinking alcohol prior to snorkelling
    • managing the risks of sun exposure or hypothermia (if appropriate) (e.g. through the use of clothing, sunscreen, wetsuits and covering up from the wind on leaving the water).

Snorkellers intending to breath hold dive should be provided with the following advice:

  • The risk posed to breath hold divers of hypoxic blackout, which if undetected will lead to serious injury, unconsciousness, or death.
  • This risk is increased significantly for breath hold divers who hyperventilate by taking repeated (more than three or four) deep breaths before descending or who do deep dives. Consequently divers are strongly advised not to hyperventilate in this manner.
  • Experienced breath hold divers are at particular risk in that they do longer and deeper dives.
  • Breath hold divers should always dive in buddy pairs where one buddy remains on the surface and observes the other buddy whilst they are diving.
  • Breath hold divers using weight-belts should be carefully weighted to ensure that they are neutrally or positively buoyant whilst at the surface. The weight belts should have a quick release mechanism and divers should be familiar with its operation.