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Diving Safety Brought Into Spotlight After Inquest

Coroner Rules On Death Of Poole Man


The death of a diver working on an oil field project off the coast of Vietnam has brought the safety standards which are in place for workers abroad into question, a top injury lawyer has suggested.

Philip Banks, of Irwin Mitchell’s International Travel Litigation team, commented following the inquest into the case of Robin Holbrook of Poole, who died last year after his gas supply cord was caught on a piece of steel embedded in the sea floor.

According to the Bournemouth Echo, Mr Holbrook was contracted by AQUA Diving Services Ltd to carry out ‘wet bell’ diving work. His death came days after another diver’s cord was also snagged on a pipe. A verdict of accidental death by gas deprivation was recorded.

Commenting on the case of Robin Holbrook, injury lawyer Philip Banks said: “This case has undoubtedly put the spotlight back on diving safety, as well as the regulations and processes in place to protect employees when working abroad.

“Experts have suggested that another diver should have been sent down to help Mr Holbrook earlier, while the area should have been examined in relation to the potential danger of debris. 

“In addition, one of the most concerning issues raised by the Coroner in the aftermath of Mr Holbrook’s death is that a supervisor was sacked from his job because he raised questions about safety procedures. His calls for improved levels of employee protection are thought to have been ignored.

“Britons working abroad, particularly those in such dangerous occupations, deserve appropriate protection and the right to know that their welfare is being taken seriously by their employers and other contracting businesses.”

Irwin Mitchell has dealt with a number of similar cases involving workers injured or killed during oil and gas exploration and extraction including an explosion on a gas rig off the coast of Holland in 2003, several accidents on rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, and off the coast of Tunisia. The firm also acted for victims of the Piper Alpha disaster and their families when an explosion and fire on a North Sea oil rig tragically killed 167 men.