Updated Sep 3, 2020

MoD given crown censure following tragic death of military diver

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have issued the Ministry of Defence (MoD) with a Crown Censure following the death of a military diver during training.

Lance Corporal George Partridge tragically lost his life on 26 March 2018 during his participation on a training course at the National Diving and Activity Centre in Chepstow. Him and his diving partner were carrying out a training task in which they had to attach a distance line from the base of a shot line to an underwater helicopter wreck 27 metres below the water. Whilst underwater he had stopped responding to lifeline signals so was brought back to the surface, unfortunately he was pronounced dead after CPR attempts failed to resuscitate him. Both of his oxygen cylinders were found to be empty when his body was recovered.

The HSE chose to serve two Crown improvement notices on the MoD regarding their failure to train all army divers how to carry out underwater air endurance calculations and how to assess the risk of a diver running out of air.

The MoD accepted the Crown Censure and admitted they had breached their duties to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all its employees, under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, in relation to the risks associated with diving exercises.

Crown Censures are the maximum sentence the HSE can bring against a government body like the MoD, as government bodies can't be prosecuted by the HSE in the same way other organisations can. There is no financial implication from a Crown Censure in the same way other businesses or individuals would be prosecuted under the sentencing guidelines, but once accepted it gives an official record of a failure by that body to meet the legal standard required.

An HSE inspector who specialises in diving, Julian Tuvey, commented: ''This was a tragedy for all concerned however just like any other employer, the MoD has a responsibility to reduce dangers to its personnel, as far as they properly can. The scenario of a diver running out of air is a very real risk that needs to managed.''