Immersion fatalities: Hazardous responses and dangerous discrepancies

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In this paper the following question is addressed: 'Why, given the plethora of standards, specifications and guidelines for immersion protective equipment, are lives still being lost at sea and fatal accident enquiries questioning the quality of such equipment?' In attempting to answer this question, consideration is given to the extent to which both the possible prevailing environmental conditions, and the physiological responses they evoke, are recognised in the design, selection and evaluation of immersion protective equipment. The hazardous responses associated with immersion in cold water are briefly reviewed and the value and relevance of some of the existing tests of immersion protective clothing are considered. It is concluded that: i. when standards, policies and tests for the selection and use of immersion protective clothing are being formulated, consideration should be given to all of the hazardous responses associated with immersion; ii. it should be recognised that the performance of immersion protective equipment during an accident may be significantly inferior to that predicted by routine testing for certification.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-107
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Royal Naval Medical Service
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1995


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