Since many of the risks and hazards associated with scuba diving are known, they can be effectively mitigated or avoided by taking appropriate predive safety precautions. Using a predive checklist is one way divers can remind themselves to take all necessary precautions. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of predive checklists in reducing the incidence of diving mishaps and injuries. Using a randomized controlled trial design, divers at selected dive sites were given a predive checklist and later issued an outcome questionnaire.
The study concluded that predive checklists can increase diving safety and their use should be promoted.
This study was completed in 2014.
A Randomized Control Trial on the Efficacy of Predive Checklists
Recreational scuba diving is an inherently risky activity with known hazards. Since many of the risks and hazards associated with diving are known, they can be effectively mitigated or avoided by taking proper precautions and making appropriate safety considerations. However, injuries can still occur despite the best efforts to prevent them. Although scuba diving injuries are rare, they can be extremely expensive to treat, cause permanent damage or disability and may prove fatal. At the time of this study, DAN estimated a fatality rate of 16.4/100,000 divers in their member population.
Diving mishaps are defined as errors that include three major aspects: human errors, equipment errors and environmental factors. Some of the most common mishaps are out‐of‐air scenarios, rapid ascents, equipment problems and entrapment. Research shows that diving mishaps occur on approximately 2 out of every 100 recreational dives and it is estimated that 30 percent of diving mishaps lead to diving injuries.
Trends have suggested that incidences of diving mishaps and injuries may be reduced if divers follow prescribed predive safety procedures. Standard predive safety procedures include thoroughly checking equipment, dive planning and properly organizing a dive. Although most divers are trained to conduct predive checks before every dive, divers’ compliance with this training is questionable.
In this study it was hypothesized that using checklists would reduce the frequency of diving mishaps that result from human and equipment errors. After analyzing the outcomes of 1,116 participants’ dives, it was found that using a predive checklist was significant in preventing mishaps that can lead to injuries and fatalities. Therefore, using predive checklists can increase diving safety and we highly recommend their implementation.
Full details of this study are listed here.
Additional Reading and References
- Ranapurwala SI, Wing S, Poole C, Kucera KL, Marshall SW, Denoble PJ. Mishaps and unsafe conditions in recreational scuba diving and pre-dive checklist use: a prospective cohort study. Inj Epidemiol. 2017 Dec;4(1):16
- Ranapurwala SI, Denoble PJ, Poole C, Kucera KL, Marshall SW, Wing S. The effect of using a pre-dive checklist on the incidence of diving mishaps in recreational scuba diving: a cluster-randomized trial. Int J Epidemiol. 2016 Feb;45(1):223-31.
- Ranapurwala SI, Poole C, Marshall SW, Kucera KL, Denoble PJ, Wing S. Factors influencing adherence to pre-dive checklists among recreational scuba divers. Undersea Hyperb Med. 2016; 43(7): 827-832.
- Denoble PJ, Ranapurwala SI, Moore JP, Wing SB. A pre-dive checklist may prevent diving mishaps: results from a grouped randomized trial. Undersea Hyperb Med. 2013; 40(6):596.
- Ranapurwala SI, Wing S, Denoble PJ. Prevention of scuba diving mishaps by using a pre-dive checklist: A grouped randomized trial. 46th Annual SER Meeting, June 18-21, 2013, Boston, Massachusetts.