Diving school failed on safety when 'novice' diver died off Dorset coast
A diving school and instructor have been ordered to pay £35,000 for “significant” health and safety failings before the tragic death of a much-loved dad.
Jan Karon, 54, drowned four years ago off Portland, Dorset, while diving with St Philip’s firm Subaquaholics.
Bristol Crown Court heard the “novice” had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Raynaud’s phenomenon, which affected his circulation in cold conditions.
But Subaquaholics failed to ensure important documents had been filled out before allowing him to dive, including a medical questionnaire, “statement of risk and liability” and a “statement of understanding”.
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They also failed to keep dive logs and did not do a site risk assessment for the specific dive Mr Karon died on, on October 19, 2008.
That morning, the HGV instructor had gone to a depth of more than 30m for the first time, at Grove Point. He was with Ian Johnson, an experienced instructor.
But before resurfacing, Mr Karon fell unconscious and could not be saved. An inquest found he died from drowning with coronary artery disease a contributing factor. Mr Karon’s GP confirmed she would not have passed him “fit to dive”.
Following a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution, Subaquaholics admitted failing to ensure the health and safety of people not in its employment. Mr Johnson, of Kingswood, admitted twice breaching the Diving at Work Regulations 1997.
Mitigating, Adrian Darbishire said Johnson and his wife – a director of Subaquaholics – were both filled with regret and remorse about Mr Karon’s death. He said Johnson was considered a skilled and experienced instructor who took safety extremely seriously.