Scuba Diving - General Safety information
Taking The Plunge - General Safety Information on Scuba Diving:
The following information is provided as a guide only. Please also utilise our Common Questions information page for any general questions.
At a glance
Some medical conditions may prevent you from diving. If concerned, please consult your doctor. Minimum age for all diving activities is 12 years.
Liveaboard Passengers and Certified Diving
Evidence of dive certification and medical fitness to dive is required from all divers.
Learn to Dive
A dive medical in accordance with Australian Standard AS4005.1 is required by law to learn to dive in Queensland. Some medical conditions and swimming ability may prevent you from diving.
Subject to medical questionnaire.
Flying after diving
If only one dive is undertaken then a minimum of 12 hours is recommended before flying.
If more than one dive is conducted in the day, a minimum of 18 hours must pass before flying, however 24 hours is recommended.
In more detail
When diving in Australia there are different regulations and requirements compared to those in other countries. The following rules apply in Queensland:
Introductory or Resort Dives
You will need to fill in a Medical Questionnaire given to you by the company you are diving with, and similar to that shown below. If answering YES to any question it will not necessarily disqualify you from diving, but will indicate the need for a medical assessment by a qualified physician prior to diving that conforms to Australian Medical Standard AS4005-1.
Learn To Dive Courses and Referral Programs
You will need to pass a Dive Medical which has been done in accordance with Australian Standards (AS4005.1) Please be well aware of this and only do a medical outside of Australia if your doctor conducts it in accordance to those exact standards and clearly states it on the top of the medical certificate that he issues. If yours does not state this, there is a very high chance you will have to do another medical in Australia.
Prior to diving, you may be asked to fill out a Medical Questionnaire; this is not a legal requirement but is done in the your own best interests. Some companies make it policy and some don't, unfortunately it is still quite a grey area and the rules are not hard and fast.
The purpose of the questionnaire is to determine whether you should be examined by a doctor. There may be a pre-existing condition that has not stopped you from diving in your own country, but Australian laws do not allow; or perhaps there could be a new condition developed since you became qualified to dive which may well affect your safety while diving now.
So, basically if you answer YES to any of the conditions listed on the Medical Questionnaire, we strongly recommend you to see a physician for further assessment. As mentioned above it is far better to visit a physician whilst in Australia, as a valid medical in Australia is one that complies with Australian Standards (AS4005.1).
If you are qualified and are sitting at your desk thinking that you are fine and that all this medical stuff really does not concern you, let us finish by saying that there have been many cases where a qualified diver has been disqualified from diving when they have already made the trek to the reef, simply because their medical condition becomes known to the dive instructor. At the end of the day the dive instructor is controlling the dives, and your safety is their responsibility whether you like it or not!
As well as the standard health and illness issues addressed as part of a dive medical (A dive medical in accordance with Australian Standard AS4005.1 is required by law to learn to dive in Queensland), the following safety issues should be heeded by all divers:
Divers should have a reasonable level of physical fitness to cope with the environmental stresses of being underwater. The environmental factors that place a physiological strain on the diver include:
- Exertion required for propulsion through the surrounding water
- Heat loss to water that is generally colder than body temperature Breathing gas of compressed density
- Changes in the cardiorespiratory system from using underwater breathing gear
- Changes in the gas volume and pressure within air spaces in the body eg; ears, stomach, etc
Introduction into the body of gases that can have toxic, narcotic, stimulatory or gas solubility effects on bodily functions.
The human body, in reasonable condition and without injury or illness, can deal with the effects of most of these factors.
Flying After Diving
The pressure of diving causes nitrogen to go into solution in the blood, and it is the decrease in pressure as the diver returns to the surface that causes this nitrogen to come back out of solution over time and to bubble. A rapid ascent to the surface can cause complications as it represents too fast a transition across a pressure gradient for the body to effectively compensate for. Ascending to a high altitude after the dive is simply a continuation of your post-dive ascent to the surface and can also lead to decompression sickness.
It's recommended that you should wait at least 12 hours after a single dive, or 24 hours after multiday, repetitive diving, within the no-decompression limits before you travel to more than 300m (or 1,000 feet) above sea level. Bear in mind that driving over a mountain range would also put you over this suggested altitude limit.
Drinking alcohol before and during diving trips endangers not only yourself but your diving buddy. Alcohol reduces the ability of the individual to process information and impairs their ability in terms of:
- Reaction time
- Visual tracking performance
- Concentrated attention
- Ability to process information in divided attention tasks
- Perception (Judgment)
- The execution of psychomotor tasks.
Alcohol also cause dehydration which is considered to be one of the prime causes of decompression illness. While no alcohol is a good idea, if you are going to be drinking it's probably best to follow the rules for drink driving - stay below 0.05%.