The Cayman Islands leads the way in diver safety in the Caribbean, according to the Cayman Islands Tourism Association’s Watersports Committee.
The group has spoken out in response to a recent media report on the hydrostatic testing of dive tanks in Grand Cayman. This is a test of the cylinders in order to ensure that they are safe to use by divers
The article, which appeared in Cayman Net News on 18 July, claimed there were reports of problems of over pricing, delays in service and fears of a drop in safety standards with regard to hydro testing of tanks in Grand Cayman.
However, a statement from Chairman, CITA Watersports Committee Stephen Broadbelt says that the current price of hydrostatic testing per tank, of CI$25, has remained the same for several years and is considered reasonable considering the involved testing process.
The testing of scuba dive tanks and other compressed gas storage cylinders is taken very seriously by the CITA, says the release.
Visual inspections of scuba cylinders, said Mr. Broadbelt, are normally conducted internally by a trained staff member of a particular dive shop.
‘Hydrostatic testing requires more specialized equipment and is available at Pure Air Limited on Grand Cayman. A dive operator on Cayman Brac offers hydrostatic testing to all operators in the Sister Islands,’ said Mr. Broadbelt.
When contacted by the Caymanian Compass, Mr. Roberto Silva of Pure Air said all their equipment is up and running, they are fully staffed and fully capable to deal with any tanks that come in for testing.
However, the system had been down ‘intermittently’ during renovations, but is fully operational again now. However, the system would have had to go offline at some point for general maintenance purposes anyway, said Mr. Silva.
He also said that prices are competitive here compared to other regions.
Mr. Broadbelt said that based on the number of tanks on the island, and the number in test at any one time, he would say there is not a problem with getting tanks tested. The test is something that only happens every five years, he pointed out.
He also said that dive companies can ensure they do not fall short of tanks while in for testing by having other tanks to cover during that period.
Two additional testing facilities on Grand Cayman were damaged during Hurricane Ivan and one of those has plans to resume testing services, Mr. Broadbelt said.
The CITA watersports chairman said that since the late 1990s dive operators have been extremely diligent in ensuring that all of their cylinders are visually inspected annually and hydrostatically tested every five years. This is in line with recommendations from tank manufacturers, the US Department of Transport and the British Health and Safety Executive.
‘Compared to other destinations in the region, the Cayman Islands lead the way in diver safety and have done so for many years. The level of safety and professionalism of a dive destination is a key factor when divers are deciding which island to visit for their next trip.
‘All CITA watersports members meet on a monthly basis to discuss safety, environmental and business issues. The watersports community is very dedicated and has always worked together for the betterment of the industry and the Cayman Islands tourism product,’ he said.
The CITA represents over 30 watersports businesses which consist collectively of more than 3,000 scuba cylinders.