End of 2013 – A Summary and Looking Forward

ImageThis year has certainly been an interesting one, both from my PhD studies and also the engagement and acceptance by the diving community about what I am trying to achieve with my studies and with Cognitas. I am extremely grateful for the support I have had from those in the diving community who have championed my aims and corrected some myths about what I am trying to do. Being asked to write a foreword for a book on diving risk in December and then have my work mentioned in that text was the icing on the cake for me.


March was my 15 month review which went very well, with both internal and external assessors scrutinising my proposal and what I hoped to achieve. The plan appeared manageable and I got the all clear to proceed. Since then I have gone through a considerable amount of the literature to understand the problem of how errors develop and grow, how individuals and organisations manage errors and what can be done to prevent future incidents from developing.

The aim of the first module was to develop and validate a causality model which would allow both researchers and divers to learn from the mistakes we make during diving. The model needed to be detailed enough to allow disparate datasets to be shared but also easy enough to allow the lay diver to fill in a report and capture what happened and why. This model will be incorporated into the DISMS reporting system once my PhD has been completed.

This model was validated by 13 Subject Matter Experts from the diving world covering OC Rec, OC Tech and CCR instructors/instructor trainers plus 2 hyperbaric doctors with a few additional factors needing to be added to the model. The distribution survey to determine the prevalence of incidents and the reasons for their occurrence will be launched between Christmas and New Year – promotion of this survey would be extremely grateful as I am looking to collect data from 1000 divers covering OC recreational, technical, CCR divers and instructors.

This data collect will help determine where divers need to focus their efforts in preventing future incidents. It will also help training agencies identify where they may need to emphasise certain aspects of their training. I am not expecting the results to be earth-shattering novel, but it will be the first time such a data collect will have been conducted.

Cognitas Incident Research

This year I have given more than 10 presentations which included 7 club presentations including one in Ontario, Canada, and a number of conferences (the Scottish Dive Conference, the BalticTech Diving Conference, the Global Diving Conference) and have already got 2 club presentations and one major conference scheduled for next year. As each year’s presentations are different based on the progression on my research and the data I collect, I make them available on the Cognitas YouTube Channel. I don’t make money from them so don’t have a problem with making them public, especially as my work is about sharing and making information open.  Last year’s presentation is here and the presentation I have given since the end of November focusses on the fact that incidents are not simple linear constructions, they are more like a network of factors which coalesce into a incident when it all goes just right, or rather wrong! As such, it is easy to throw stones at those who make ‘obvious’ mistakes but unless you are there, with that mindset, with that experience & skills, and in that environment, you cannot make simple judgements.

The reception I have had at conferences and club nights has been excellent and I really value the feedback I have received – it has allowed me to modify the presentations to make them more appealing to the audience, but also to examine areas of my research to strengthen the arguments I am making. There has also been a really encouraging shift in attitudes from the training agencies too, who initially viewed me with skepticism (rightly so given some of the attacks from certain quarters that have happened in the past) but are now recognising the value of my work and potential outcomes. Hopefully some of the discussions I have had about getting some of the research and my thoughts into agency training materials will reach fruition.

Diving Incident Safety Management System (DISMS)

This has been relatively successful with a number of incidents collected and a number of archive incidents added to the database – in total more than 60 were added although some are not made public at the request of the reporter (for a variety of reasons). In the New Year I will be producing a report which will have all those incidents added in 2013 (even if they are older than calendar year 2013), their month/year of occurrence, a quick summary of the incident and a hyperlink to the incident report itself (if it is public).

I uploaded a video about DISMS here but need to add some audio to explain what it is about.

I get asked if DISMS has produced anything comprehensive with regards to causality. Unfortunately the answer is no because the dataset is small, and the detail included is not as comprehensive as it could be. However, I still think that it needs to be kept running as I would like, in the future, to import all of the public Annual BSAC reports into it and start classifying those incidents – making sure that their heritage is maintained in the same way that I have done with the aquaCORPS incident reports.

In the New Year I will also be looking for financial help in supporting the running of DISMS which costs me in the region of £1000 per year; these costs include server and domain costs, tech support for the backend of the database and other admin fees.

2014 – What Next?

The PhD will keep progressing with the analysis of the data collect happening, and the next main phase looking at the organisational and supervisory failures which influence the end diver/graduate when it comes to making mistakes.

Cognitas will change from a company limited by shares to one limited by guarantee as there have been concerns that I am trying to make money from the industry. This will also mean a slight change in the name of the company too. More to follow on that.

I am hoping to formally bring the Analysis Team into reviewing incidents. A reporting system is only as good as the feedback provided back to the community. If there does not appear to be any value in submitting reports, why bother? Feedback provides that worth.

Safe diving and hopefully I will see you at a conference or diving club near you.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

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