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Evaluation of decompression safety in an occupational diving group using self reported diving exposure and health status
  1. D J Doolette1,
  2. D F Gorman2
  1. 1Anaesthesia & Intensive Care, The University of Adelaide, Australia
  2. 2Department of Medicine, University of Auckland, New Zealand; Anaesthesia & Intensive Care, The University of Adelaide, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr D Doolette, Anaesthesia & Intensive Care, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia 5005; 


Background: Many occupational diving groups have substantially different diving patterns to those for which decompression schedules are validated.

Aims: To evaluate tuna farm occupational diving practice against existing decompression models and describe a method for collecting and modelling self reported field decompression data.

Methods: Machine readable objective depth/time profiles were obtained from depth/time recorders worn by tuna farm occupational divers. Divers’ health status was measured at the end of each working day using a self administered health survey that produces an interval diver health score (DHS) with possible values ranging from 0 to 30. Depth/time profiles were analysed according to existing decompression models. The contribution of diving exposure and between diver variability to DHS was evaluated using linear regression.

Results: The mean risk of decompression sickness was calculated as 0.005 (SD 0.003, n = 383). The mean DHS following diving was 3 (SD 2, n = 383) and following non-diving activities was 1 (SD 1, n = 41). After accounting for between diver variability in intercept, DHS was found to increase one unit for every 1% increase in the risk of decompression sickness.

Conclusions: A method has been established for the collection and analysis of self reported objective decompression data from occupational diving groups that can potentially be used as the basis for development of purpose designed occupational diving decompression schedules.

  • decompression sickness
  • environmental health
  • regression analysis
  • AIC, Akaike Information Criteria
  • DCIEM, Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine
  • DCS, decompression sickness
  • DHS, diver health score
  • DUR, dive duration
  • MSW, metres sea water
  • NUM, number of divers
  • pDCS, risk of DCS

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