Australian rivers lakes and shorelines are becoming more populated over the years and divers have to become aware of the potentially hazardous presence of pollution in the waters. Such things as natural disasters and transportation accidents all contribute to the pollution that divers face on a daily basis. One of the major problems with diving in polluted water is that toxins are commonly suspended in the water around the diver. Some chemicals may float on the surface and others may pool on the bottom, but biological hazards are in suspension and can enter through any weak point in the diver’s gear.New and better protection has been developed for divers to protect them from the biological and chemical hazards so prevalent at most dive sites. There is a variety of new full-face masks that cover the eyes, nose, and mouth, as well as improved helmets, for commercial divers, that attach directly to the diver’s suit, providing total encapsulation.
An excellent article by Neville Coleman. Scuba Diving First Aid for marine life injuries. A great resource for divers. Link to main article
Anna McGowan's insight:
One of the many reasons people learn to dive is so they can observe and interact with underwater life. How you interact with animals under the sea can significantly alter your appreciation for the marine environment and your risk of injury. Regardless of the method or diving partialities, there is always the threat that you will be stung, bitten or cut by an aquatic animal.Injuries caused by marine animals are exceptionally uncommon and are most often the result of a diver’s inattentiveness or an unsuspecting disturbance into the animal’s terrain. A diver may inadvertently brush against fire coral, or an animal may react in self-defence because it feels susceptible. Either way, most marine animal injuries are not life-threatening and cause only negligible uneasiness and embarrassment.
The risk of getting decompression sickness from flying too soon after a dive is because as the plane rises higher, the surrounding air pressure is lower. Although the plane keeps cabin pressure higher than the real air pressure outside the plane, the cabin pressure still is lower than the air pressure on the ground. That encourages any residual nitrogen in your blood to form bubbles and cause decompression sickness. It is normally recommended to fly after 24 to 48 hours after a dive.
Shaye is one of the many housekeepers on the site. Funny and witty and certainly makes our days with her little surprising anecdotes along the way.
Anna McGowan's insight:
Housekeeping is a physically demanding occupation and contains multiple tasks, such as making beds, cleaning bathroom amenities, washing floors and dusting all with the added pressure of performing in a certain amount of time. A time limit placed on housekeepers to complete a room is approximately 10 to 15 minutes per room. Major hazards and risks are placed on housekeepers in order to provide a clean and hygienic environment for our camp facilities. Some well-known hazards and risks are:
Musculoskeletal injuries – space limitations require housekeepers to use uncomfortable postures such as stooping, squatting, kneeling, reaching, bending, twisting and crouching. Assuming a room takes 15 minutes, body movements would amount to 4800 different postures per room. There is a huge possibility of musculoskeletal injuries from just one room.
Manual Handling – this is mainly due to the above excessive bodily strains and the heavy physical workloads placed on house keepers to maintain the necessary speed that housekeepers are expected to perform. Forceful movements, such as lifting mattresses and cleaning floors in every room, are physically demanding.
Working with Chemicals – various types of hazardous chemicals is used in housekeeping. They include drain cleaners, disinfectants, toilet cleaners and bleach. Contact through skin or inhalation is the most common risk. Chemicals are corrosive and without proper controls, some chemicals may cause dermatitis, skin irritation, asthma and breathing difficulties.
Shaye enjoys her job and just wants to let you know that “even though there are risks associated with housekeeping I wouldn’t have it any other way. Being stuck behind a desk all day and doing the same routine work is not where I wanted to be. The incredible travel opportunities and talking to a broad variety of characters is what’s engaging for me”.
Tina is a kitchen hand. A lovely person that is always smiling and happy. Was quite a discovery to find out that she loves to go scuba diving on her rest and relaxation week.
Anna McGowan's insight:
Scuba Diving, like any other pursuit, has their in-built risks related with the activity. According to Tina “Diving is the same as flying in a plane; both are low risk when done correctly with well-maintained equipment, following well-known rules and you are in good conditions”. However, both are unforgiving if you disregard these rules that are intended to minimise the risks.
Changes in atmospheric pressure can severely injure bodily air spaces if you fail to equalise with the surrounding pressure and if you are not in peak physical health. It can also be exhausting at times especially when you need the energy to handle long swims, tackle currents or and other situations that may arise.
Diving, for most people facing it for the first time, is done in an unfamiliar setting – Water. The use of life-support equipment cannot be completely relied upon. Aquatic skills are vital to enjoy this pastime. Some debilitating injuries and risks associated with diving include:
Bartotrauma – caused by descending too rapidly and the diver is unable to equalise. This results in severe pain and injury to the middle ear.
Decompression Sickness – also known as the “bends”. This is caused by the body’s tissues absorbing more nitrogen due to increased underwater pressure. If pressure is unexpectedly reduced, the nitrogen forms damaging bubbles in the blood stream. Depending on the amount of nitrogen absorbed and rate of release, “the bends” symptoms range from aching joints, skin rashes, paralysis and death.
Nitrogen Narcosis – similar to the bends where it is related to how deep a diver goes to the amount of nitrogen in the bodily system. This is a danger because it impairs judgement and sensory perception.
Pulmonary embolism – this is caused by divers who ascend rapidly to the surface. Increased pressure of the underwater environment results in the gas that the diver breathes to become denser. Gas in the lungs expands at the same rate as the pressure on the body decreases, therefore, a rapid ascent causes the lungs to swell and pop like a balloon.
These are the most dangerous of hazards and risks associated with diving but Tina just wants you all to know that “if you do what you are taught to do, the risks are minimal and all your diving experiences from diving beautiful reefs to eerie shipwrecks will be pleasant. However, diving is an extreme sport with its own injuries and life-threatening hazards so stay safe!”
Damage to scuba divers ears can be from an annoying case of swimmer’s ear to a significant injury that results in permanent hearing loss. Barotitis Media or middle ear “squeeze” is trauma to the middle ear and is the most common ear injury. This is caused when the pressure in the middle ear is not equalised on descent, so the body tries to equalise the inner ear by forcing fluid and blood into the middle ear cavity. Another injury suffered by divers when not equalising on descent is damage to the eardrum that can rupture. The difference in pressure forces it to bulge inwards until eventually it ruptures to allow water into the middle ear. Yet another injury is if the diver over-equalises, an injury referred to as inner ear barotrauma occurs. When excessive valsalva technique (ie. forcibly exhale while keeping the mouth and nose closed) this places an excessive force on the tiny membrane between the middle ear and the inner ear.This is the most serious ear injury to occur during scuba diving and can lead to permanent hearing loss in the ear. Divers should be made aware of the high risk of injury to the ears. Divers can prevent ear injuries by not forcefully doing valsalva technique to clear the ears, if having trouble equalising on descent to rise a few meters and to avoid diving if unwell with any flu or illness that results in ears being congested. Main points to keep in mind are that if you CAN’T equalise your ears, then you shouldn’t be diving.
Scuba diving can transport you to a magical underwater world, but in rare cases the pressure can be dangerous.
Anna McGowan's insight:
The “bends” is linked with SCUBA diving. It is, in fact, an old-fashioned term used originally to describe the arrival of workers returning from ‘caissons’ during the construction of bridges in the 19th century. The air inside these underwater enclosures was pressurised (i.e. hyperbaric – greater than normal pressure) to counteract the weight of the surrounding water. Following their shifts, some men would return to the surface suffering joint pain that made it difficult for them to stand straight. Many workers died or suffered permanent disability because of “Caisson disease”, as the condition became known. The connection between the workers’ return to the surface and their symptoms led to the introduction of surface based re-compression chambers to treat the afflicted. However, the reason for the condition was not fully recognised until 1878, when Paul Bert published his theory that the cause was the formation of nitrogen bubbles within the body. He also correctly stated that it was possible to avoid their harmful effects by ascending to the surface gradually – and that hyperbaric chambers worked, in part, because they decreased the size of bubbles.
Nigel is an electrician that works at multiple camp sites. A quiet and reserved gentleman that is well liked and respected.
Anna McGowan's insight:
Nigel is responsible for the maintenance and repair work on multiple sites around the camps. He is exposed to dangerous electrical currents that trigger electrical shock and fires. Shock happens when the body becomes part of the electric circuit by coming in contact with both wires of a circuit, one wire of an energized circuit and the ground or a metallic part that’s become energised by contact with an electrical conductor. Severity of injury depends on a few factors, such as pathway through the body, amount of current, length of time to exposure and whether the skin is wet or dry. In the mine sites, emphasis is put on locking out and tagging out any electrical circuit and testing for dead, even when changing a light bulb.
Electricians are more vulnerable to manual handling injuries than most workers due to pulling cables, completing work in cramped postures, working overhead, lifting, carrying and manoeuvring awkward loads.
Another hazard faced by electricians is the exposure to asbestos. Exposure can cause debilitating and fatal diseases such as lung cancer, gastro intestinal cancer and mesothelioma which is a form of cancer which affects the membranes of the lungs in its most common form and also in some body organs in its most rarest forms. There is no asbestos on site, however, it is another hazard associated with most electricians in the domestic and commercial spheres.
Nigel states that “we as electricians are put through years of training and work experience because of the specialised knowledge and risks associated to the job, but, just like everything you do, you only get out of it what you put into it”
Kylee is a kitchen hand at camp. She's another lovely and jovial person and was not surprising to hear that her great passion outside the camp was dirt bike riding.
Anna McGowan's insight:
Kylee says that “Any form of motor cycling is dangerous; but how dangerous it is has a lot to do with your attitude. Riding a dirt bike just adds another layer of hazards to what is already a hazardous hobby to begin with”.
Dirt bike riders are exposed to many risks. Some known risks are:
Moving Dangers - Due to the speed and heights reached when riding escalates the risk of bodily injuries. Dirt bikes are normally ridden on rough terrain or “flying” over hills and ditches so the probability of falling from great heights and striking the ground with great force is high. Injuries of these types of falls include bruising, cuts and abrasions, muscle sprains and strains, bone fractures, dislocation of joints, internal injuries, head injuries and in extreme cases death.
Non-moving Dangers – caution should be maintained when mounting and dismounting from dirt bikes due to other traffic and unforeseen or out of control bikes, especially on a track or bike trail. It is imperative to move away from the track as soon as possible after a crash as other riders may not be able to see you in time to react to a stationary bike and rider.
Environmental – Because dirt bike riding is done in an “off-road” setting through woods or trails in remote areas, riding alone can be dangerous. Mechanical problems, or crashing when riding alone, can expose riders to the environmental elements such as wildlife, extreme temperatures and challenging terrains.
Like any other activity, dirt bike riding has its hazards and risks. Kylee just wants to let us know that “Preventing injuries is easy. Just make sure that where you are riding is safe and free from wildlife, people, traffic and obstacles. Wearing protective gear and following “common sense” safety rules such as speed limits, riding within your limitations and avoiding sharp turns will help keep you safe.”
The youngest member of our crew. Matt is a plumber here on-site and his passion is skateboarding. Matt has been in numerous competitions and has also had his fair share of injuries..
Anna McGowan's insight:
Collective opinions are that skateboarding is a sport associated only for daredevils and risk-takers. My colleague Matt disputes this saying that “even though it appears blatantly evident on the surface, when taught safely and properly, skateboarding is safer than football”. Even though most leisure activities, hobbies or sports involve an element of risk, it is this element which attracts Matt to skateboarding. Matt tells me that injuries can be limited by wearing the appropriate protective equipment at all times. Most injuries occur to “new” skaters, highlighting the importance of protective gear such as helmet, knee/elbow pads and wrist guards. Research has shown me, however, that some characteristic injuries, that accounts for 80% of skateboarding injuries, involve abrasions and misalignment of joints and fractures due to falls from loss of balance, failed trick attempts or irregularities in the surface. Matt tells me to let you all know that when you first skateboard the most important thing is to know your limits and to skate within these limits. For example, increase difficulty of tricks gradually; don’t jump down stairs before you can jump a kerb. He also emphasises the importance of teaching skaters about the use of safety equipment and “skate park etiquette” to help reduce the frequencies of serious injuries and lower the likelihood of collisions.
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