Fall on foredeck of dive workboat Jean Elaine with loss of 1 life

Location: 15nm north-west of Cape Wrath, Scotland.

Accident Investigation Report 25/2013

Read our marine accident investigation report, which includes what happened, actions taken and subsequent recommendations:

JeanElaine-MAIBReportNo25-2013-.pdf (3,202.89 kb)


On 14 August 2012 while 15 nautical miles north-west of Cape Wrath, Scotland, an experienced recreational diver fell onto the deck of the dive workboat Jean Elaine. Although it was not immediately apparent it is likely that during the fall his diving gear caused significant internal injuries. Having been helped back to his feet by the boat’s crew, positive indication was made to continue with the dive and the diver entered the water unaided. During the dive the casualty began an unplanned ascent losing control of his breathing and buoyancy shortly afterwards. Despite efforts in the water, on board Jean Elaine and by emergency services, he was later pronounced dead.

Safety Issues

  • there was a significant risk to divers of tripping and falling when attempting to walk on the deck of a workboat in open sea while fully dressed and equipped for deep ‘technical’ diving
  • the effects of wearing a large amount of heavy diving equipment can significantly exacerbate the results of what might otherwise be considered a relatively minor fall
  • while other incidents underwater have not been considered, it is plausible that Lex Warner started his unplanned ascent, which led to his death, because he felt unwell as a result of internal injuries suffered during a pre-dive fall.
  • although the skipper was aware of the demands of his working environment, there was no evidence of a formal assessment of the risks to a fully-dressed diver moving from his seated preparation area, to the point of entry into the water


As a result of this investigation, two safety recommendations (2013/245 & 246) have been made to improve the arrangements for recreational divers when operating from workboats.

This report was published on 5 December 2013.

Updates to this page

Published 23 January 2015