OLYMPIA – The tragic death of a Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) diver on July 24, 2012 led to an immediate suspension of dive operations and a comprehensive review of DNR’s dive program. An independent team of dive experts was tasked with a top to bottom review of the dive program, to identify needed changes and improvements. The expert review team included current and former master divers from NOAA and the Navy, as well as directors from the Dive Institute of Technology. That review identified 37 items that DNR needed to address. DNR has completed about two thirds of these action items and is working to complete the rest. These corrective actions include acquisition, testing, and maintenance of equipment; training; policies; and dive procedures.
DNR has already corrected most of the violations in the citation issued today by Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), including the two most serious violations. DNR intends to appeal the citation, not because DNR believes it has been treated unfairly, but rather so that DNR may fully describe to L&I the work that has been accomplished since July to improve safety within the dive program, as this relates to the specific violations contained in the citation. Irrespective of its appeal, DNR will ensure that any outstanding violations are corrected within the 15-day period specified by L&I.
DNR takes very seriously the safety of its employees and the public. Many of our employees work outdoors in environments and on duties that are inherently risky. It is imperative that we do everything we can to foster a safe work place.