Maritime industry jobs are dangerous, and few are more dangerous that commercial diving. These professionals work underwater in a variety of settings to inspect, repair, maintain and install equipment. The hazards of this kind of work were highlighted in a recent tragedy when a diver died while working in a large water tank in Braintree, Massachusetts. His air supply was cut off and other workers were not able to pull him out in time.
Spotter Couldn’t Save the Diver
The incident occurred in a large and cold water tower in Braintree. The commercial diver was inspecting the tank in waters that were close to freezing temperature. The city hired a company that works on water tanks and they brought in the diver as a contract worker from T.K. Potable Diving, a commercial diving company from Texas. Every five years the large tanks in this area of Massachusetts are inspected by divers to look for any weaknesses or spots that need repair.
The diver reported that he was having trouble with his air supply, but then communication with his spotter on top of the tank was lost. The spotter jumped into the tank to help the diver, but soon found himself in trouble. At one point the spotter reported later that he had gotten a hold on the diver, but was not able to keep his grasp. The diver was unconscious at that point and the spotter was getting weak in the cold water.
Rescue workers arrived on the scene in time to rescue the spotter, but it was too late for the diver, who drowned in the tank. After pulling him from the tank, the more than one million gallons of water were drained so that the body of the diver could be recovered. The weather and the dangerous conditions in the tank meant that attempting a recovery from the hatch in the top of the tank was too risky.
The Dangers of Commercial Diving
All types of commercial diving are risky and full of hazards. Divers who inspect water tanks are at risk of experiencing the kind of accident witnessed in Braintree. There are other kinds of risks to the job as well. These divers must first climb to the tops of the tall water tanks, sometimes in windy and frigid weather. Divers follow strict safety rules, such as working with a spotter and using harnesses, but things can go wrong in spite of these precautions.
Other accidents involving commercial divers highlight the dangers in various settings. In October a commercial diver died in Washington near the San Juan Islands when his air supply hose was severed and he had no back up. In Australia earlier this year a diver nearly died while working under water. A communication mistake led to a metal depressor frame weighing more than seven tons to be lowered on to him, crushing him into the mud of the sea floor.
These accidents and the most recent one in Massachusetts show just how risky the work of commercial diving is. These workers have a right to a workplace that is made as safe as possible, but even when all precautions are taken, accidents can happen.