Safety in Recreational Water Activities


Now that Summer has arrived many people will make the most of the warm weather and take part in water activities such as snorkelling and diving. Statistics show that each year 1.12 million people snorkel in North Queensland alone and around 345,000 people visit Queensland to dive each year.* It is no wonder that the dive industry is a significant contributor to the Queensland economy. However, while snorkelling and diving activities are fun they do involve a risk of injury.

On 26 May 2011, the Queensland Parliament passed the Safety in Recreational Water Activities Bill 2011. The Bill was introduced because diving and snorkelling are not included in the national model Work Health and Safety legislation.

Key elements

The main objective of the new legislation is so that dive shop operators and providers ensure the health and safety of people who take part in recreational water activities, such as snorkelling and diving. The legislation sets out the legal duties and operating requirements to be applied in Queensland to protect people against injury by eliminating or minimising risks involved in snorkelling and diving.

Under the legislation, dive shop operators and providers have a duty to provide advice, information, education and training to patrons. There is also a duty to secure compliance through effective and appropriate internal enforcement measures including a requirement on business owners to ensure compliance with the legislation in providing recreational water activities.

People participating in recreational water activities and those present during those activities are to be given the highest level of protection from hazards and risks arising from the provision of those activities as is reasonably practicable. It also introduces reporting requirements for 'notifiable incidents' such as serious illness, injury or death.

However, people who participate in snorkelling or diving must be aware that despite the duties set out in the legislation; if a claim is brought by a person who has suffered a personal injury that has occured as a result of an obvious risk while participating in recreational water activities will not succeed.

The provisions of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011(Qld) (which is due to come into effect on 1 January 2012) also applies to a person conducting a business or undertaking that provides recreational water activities to ensure the health and safety of workers.


This important legislation places a duty of care on dive shop operators and providers to ensure the safety of their customers who take part in snorkelling and diving.

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Posted: Sat, 14 Jan 2012 20:45:57 +1000 By: Maria
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