The forms are the same in Europe too
Is Administrative Paperwork needed?
Before we take any student diver into the waters around Gozo we must do administrative paperwork. Student divers may question why they need to do the paperwork and what is it for? There are three main documents we use for PADI experience programs and educational courses. They serve many purposes, and are of utmost importance to both the student diver, the Instructor and the dive centre.
A periodical check, making sure we are using the up-to-date versions is very useful too.
What purpose do they serve?
The primary purpose of the three main documents is diver safety. Student divers entering the water in Xwejni Bay for a confined session, or Mgarr ix-Xini for an open water session must complete the forms prior to entering the water. Divers and those that want to become divers are informed of risk and liability. After reading the forms they can make a choice and decision if to participate or not.
All divers and students alike need to understand the inherent risks, understand the medical questionnaire and health conditions that may heighten the risk of diving. Standards of safe diving and the measures we take to create a safe diving environment must also be understood and accepted. Both students and certified divers must read the content, make a decision to participate or not, then sign the documents. Once the document is signed this signals that the diver or student is willing to accept the conditions and understands the content of the forms.
Minors who wish to dive.
Minors or participants under the age of 18 years require a parent or guardian to sign the appropriate forms. A youth video or flip chart must be shown to children (10-11 years of age) and their parent or guardian. This helps the parents or guardian to understand the inherent risk and safety standards before they sign the forms on behalf of the child. Children aged 10-11 years also require their parent or guardian to sign the Youth Diving Responsibility and Risks Acknowledgement form.
Let’s take a look at each of the three required documents;
Medical Statement/Questionnaire Form
This form is crucial to informing new participants that health problems may cause risk to the diver. It serves the purposes of medical screening and informs both the instructor and the dive centre of any possible health risks. PADI Medical Statements have been compiled by medical experts in dive medicine. The questionnaire indicates various medical conditions and health-related issues that might cause harm to the diver if answered with a ‘yes’. In the case of a ‘yes’, the participant must see a physician before being allowed to enter the water. Anyone with a known condition should seek advice from his or her GP before leaving their resident country. Your own doctor knows your case history, therefore making it easier to decide if you are ‘fit to dive’. The medical statement or questionnaire serves as a legal document in the unlikely event of a lawsuit.
Safe Diving Practice Statement of Understanding;
This is the second document of the three. The PADI Safe Diving Practice Statement of Understanding form informs the diver of procedures taken to stay safe underwater. It outlines these steps and establishes that the diver understands the correct and appropriate dive practices and procedures. The form also serves as a reminder of various specific risks that diving carries with it and documents effective ways and means of avoiding the consequences of the risks. The listed risks and consequences are based upon the level of certification the diver has and the training the diver has received so far. For example; it states that a diver should ascend at a maximum rate of 18 m per minute and make a safety stop at 5 m for 3 minutes. Once the participant accepts the statement and signs it, the participant agrees to the safe diving practices.
Assumption of Risk/Release of Liability/Statement of Risk and Liability/Non-agency Disclosure Forms;
There is an EU version of this form and a Non-EU version. The EU version is noted by the “Statement of Risk and Liability” language and it is used in EU countries ONLY. The other version is an international version, used everywhere else in the world.
This form serves the purpose to warn and clearly inform the participant of the inherent risks of scuba diving. For certified divers, it is a reminder of the risks of diving, for new, non-certified participants, it will be most likely the first time they have heard or seen this document. The document allows participants to make an informed choice of whether to accept the risks or not. It also lays out the disclosure and explanation of the risks and they can freely decide what to do. When the participant signs and dates the form this is an acceptance of the risks and they can move forward to enjoy the dive program on offer.
Your Responsibility to Divers and Students;
As an Instructor and Dive Centre, you have to provide these forms to your students and participating divers. Any additional course-specific forms that are required, such as Enriched Air Nitrox forms for a Nitrox Course must also be given out.
Answer any questions that your students and divers may have. Help them to understand the risk and liability section as well as any questions that are not understood on the Standards of Safe Diving Practice forms.
Make sure all the forms are signed and dated and that the participants have understood what they signed. Keep a copy of the signed forms in your student record folder.
The Participants’ and Students’ Responsibility;
They are required to read the forms carefully before signing them. Ask questions if they do not understand what is on the forms or what it means exactly. Accept the given information, sign and date the forms on the correct space provided.
All these forms can be downloaded from the PADI website.