From the seemingly simple, to utterly complex of underwater operations, the statement ‘plan your dive, dive your plan’ offers a critical piece of advice. In the early days, I was taught about the 7 P’s – Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance – and that has proved true time and time again.
Most of my work is of the inshore construction variety – generally working very shallow with poor or no visibility, and carrying out heavy construction tasks where coordination between diver, topside support, and machinery operators is a necessity to get anything done at all. One wrench in the ‘plan’ sends everyone scrambling and the tasks is unlikely to be accomplished. You can have checklist after checklist after checklist for daily or even specific work tasks, but in the end it comes down to paying attention and exhibiting a little bit of common sense. Now of course, ‘common sense’ is the second half of my mantra that defines diving where it is ‘a little bit of physics, and a whole lot of common sense’. Unfortunately, while fatigued, cold, frustrated, and under pressure, common sense – especially amongst a full team of players – can be hard to come by.
I am not pointing fingers, but I have seen toolbox meetings where a half dozen people agree to go ‘left’, and the diver gets in the water and the plan goes ‘right’. It blows my mind, and is cause for re-evaluating safe practices. Bottom line is that while commercial dive operations are largely a dependent operation on team players, having acutely developed independent survival skills are an inherent necessity.
As a diver at the end of a tether in someone else’s hands, ask yourself “do I trust these guys with my life?” If the answer is ‘no’, be prepared. Be very well prepared. If the answer is ‘yes’, you may be complacent and need to re-evaluate your self-preparedness.
Point is, dive YOUR plan. Ensure that all are on the same page. If a supervisor or other team member’s idea of the ‘plan’ puts you in harms way, speak up! You are your set of eyes and senses underwater, and those observations need to play significantly into the goings on of the dive operation…from the simplest of tasks, to the most complex.