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Green Team
Inspecting the Inspectors
regulators and missing depth gauges. But their inspection wouldn’t the observation of training wasn’t just confined to the classroom
Inspecting the Inspectors
stop when these issues were spotted. a missing dustcap would and pool sessions though; sometimes the inspectors would join the
prompt a series of questions about who rinses the regulator and trainees on the dive boat. Hussein explained how this enables them
when it was last serviced, together with guidance on why it was so to witness how the trainees are taken through their open water
important not to let water into the first stage (the build up of rust can dives as well as to observe the briefings and see how the centre’s risk
cause it to suddenly malfunction). When it came to depth gauges assessments are put into practice.
inspectors like Hussein knew all the tricks in the book – at one centre
he was presented with several boxes of gauges as proof they were While most of the centres i visited with the inspectors were keen to
being used. Hussein proceeded to lick each one of them and when he achieve the standards, it was clear a minority weren’t. i joined amr
could taste no salt the centre’s management knew their ruse had been to visit what he described as a ‘very slippery customer.’ one who on
rumbled. his initial visit appeared to be flouting just about all of the standards
including poorly kept records, old equipment with no service records
However, equipment inspections weren’t always about uncovering and no risk assessments. as we arrived we found the dive centre
what may well have been deceitful intentions, for the most part the empty but on talking to staff at the hotel where it was based we were
inspectors would look for the small things that might have been told they were out diving.
inadvertently missed. on a safari boat inspection Hazem was about
to pass the boat with flying colours until he found the facemask Before long one of the centre’s associates turned up with the message
for the oxygen equipment to be in a non-sterile unsealed bag. that they were no longer running any diving services. But amr
Fortunately the boat owner had a set of spares and immediately suspected otherwise and it wasn’t long before he found the evidence
replaced it and as such passed the compliance criteria for ‘sufficient he was looking for in a customer feedback book, which showed how
quantity of emergency equipment.’ i was impressed with this level clients had been diving from the centre only a few days before. on the
of thoroughness. the inspections weren’t just about having the way out amr told me: ‘Closure is almost certain for this centre.’ i asked
equipment – it had to be maintained to such a standard that it could amr what the consequences would be if the owner chose to remain
be used as per its operating guidelines. open following the withdrawal of his licence. ‘He will be led away in
handcuffs under arrest,’ came his stern reply.
the standard of training was another major concern for the inspectors.
over the years i’ve witnessed plenty of practices that have made me For those dive operators who are spending the time, effort and money
wince; instructor to student ratios being exceeded, depth limitations to ensure their standards reach and exceed those expected by the
ignored, poor standards of instruction and the use of inappropriate CDWs the promise of action by the authorities against the ‘red sea
equipment. all of these errors in training can be potentially fatal and Cowboys’ is most welcome. more than 0 operations in the red sea
in the past egypt was by no means exempt. as one instructor told have already lost their licence including some of those i visited with
me: ‘previously [before the CDWs] there was no-where to go if you the inspectors. in my opinion their cost cutting short cuts did nothing
witnessed unsafe practices – you just kept quiet and hoped nothing to enhance the reputation of legitimate egyptian dive operators and
happened.’ they deserved to be put out of business.

the inspectors tended to ensure training was conducted properly by those who have achieved the ‘iso’ certificate should feel proud of
observing and evaluating the instructors in action - they would even their achievement as the CDWs have set the bar impressively high. By
go as far as checking the trainee’s dive computer to ensure they had measuring dive operators against these standards the levels of service
not gone beyond their depth limits. and safety in egypt have without doubt been enhanced.

Communication wasn’t a problem for the inspectors who could speak as one customer at an ‘iso’ certificated centre told me: ‘i feel confident
a range of languages, however, for some of the diving instructors diving here as i know the centre has achieved a set of standards which
they observed it was. at one centre the instructor was trying to train will ensure my diving experience is a safe one.’
a woman who only spoke german by using her partner to translate
what he said. However, as her partner’s main language was italian and
For more information on the standards and for a list of dive centres
the instructor only spoke english it soon became clear that she would
and safari boats that have achieved certification see the CDWs
end up with a paDi open Water qualification having understood little
web site:
of what had been taught.
amr reads the comments book at Calypso Dive inspecting the boat lists at orca Dive Club, el gouna
issue 2 august / september 2009 21
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