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1640b Hooka diving systems
  1. W Robertson
  1. Independent Occupational Physician, Yorkshire, UK


Diving is an incredibly common activity both in the recreational and commercial domain. Despite being an activity where a human is submerged in an unnatural and constantly changing environment, diving is normally a very safe activity if appropriate training, operating protocols and equipment is used. Serious incidents in diving have been reported as occurring in between 1/10 000, and 1/20 00 dives, with a fatality seen between 1/95000 and 1/200000. Commercial diving is regulated in the UK by the ‘Diving at Work’ Regulations (1995) and monitored by the Health and Safety Executive. However, diving has changed dramatically over the years, with new equipment and techniques deployed all the time. Whilst some of this equipment is advantageous (e.g. Wi-Fi enabled dive computers), some has been less so, such as ‘build your own Hookah’ dive sets. This cheap but bizarre breathing systems, and resulting accidents associated with them in the occupational diving will be explored. Often the Hooka diver does not carry an accessory air source and regulator and the results of an impaired primary air supply precipitate a crisis often in remote and poorly supported working environments. Despite the harvested material from the water being usually sold at high prices to the consumer more and more the diver’s remuneration is pitiful and the latter are seeking cheaper ways to work underwater. The Hooka system does not rely on complex equipment but is fraught with danger. Figures from the Royal Hobart Hospital show even excluding cases of carbon monoxide poisoning divers using these systems account for 30% of the overall hyperbaric treatments for divers. Recent fatal cases along with increasing chamber treatments will be discussed.

  • diving casualties
  • occupational diving
  • risk assessment

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