British Columbia Diver Died While Harvesting Sea Urchins Not Provided a Safe Workplace

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Connor Brown, 26, was working as a diver on the Diver City motorboat in 2018 as part of a three-person crew that included two divers and the boat’s captain, Eric Joseph Blackburn. Michael McGee, a coworker and fellow urchin diver, discovered Brown unconscious and entangled in seaweed about 91 minutes after he first entered the water in Hecate Strait, about 200 kilometers south of Prince Rupert.

Brown’s diving equipment was found to be in good working order, and his air tank was two-thirds full. “It is not known why Brown, a fully qualified occupational diver, drowned at a depth of one metre, with two-thirds of the air in his tank remaining,” according to the inquiry’s statement of facts. The two divers began fishing in shallow water near Dewdney Island’s kelp bed and dove separately, without a lifeline or rope, and were not monitored from the surface by an assistant. according to a court record. The two divers did not use any type of signal or audio device to communicate with each other or with the surface while underwater, and they were not in constant physical or visual contact. Visual contact is required by the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.

The boat was owned by 678531 BC Ltd, a numbered company whose directors were Michael Steinmann and his wife.

The company, Steinmann, and Blackburn’s trial was set to begin on May 2, 2022, and could have lasted three weeks in total, but the three parties entered guilty pleas to counts under the Offence Act. It was stated that when Steinmann hired Blackburn, he was aware that Blackburn lacked scuba qualifications and lacked the necessary training and certifications to act as a diving supervisor. Blackburn admitted he failed to ensure the divers’ health and safety. The parties are expected to return to court to set a sentencing date.

Ted Brown, Connor’s father, wishes for an investigation or inquest to provide diving safety for the future.

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Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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