Objective: To investigate recreational scuba diving fatalities within Western Australia (WA) between 1992 and 2005.
Methods: Coroners reports for 24 diving fatalities were reviewed to determine anthropometry, certification status and breaches of safe practices for each.
Results: Certification status was known for 20 divers and of these six (30%) were uncertified. Certified divers breached significantly fewer safe diving practices than uncertified divers (p<0.01). Existing regulatory mechanisms require training certification only for dives made from commercial dive boats, yet the number of deaths involving shore dives or private craft (n=15) were triple the number diving from commercial boats (n=5).
Conclusion: Uncertified divers are less regulated and breach more safe practices than certified divers.
Implications: We recommend changes to existing regulations governing dives made from shore and private craft in WA, requiring that all divers be certified.