How about increasing the time between Air Quality Audits...

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How about increasing the time between Air Quality Audits...

Postby Mykl » Wed Apr 23, 2014 3:08 pm

Now here's something for the NZUA to get their teeth into at the upcoming AGM, although I don't know how they'll managed the conflict of interest. As the member of a military dive club in the top of the South Island, I am responsible for the Club compressor which allows us to provide our members with cheap dive fills. Our biggest expense by far in operating the compressor is the quarterly air quality audit we need to get done to comply with legislation. Being an aviation based Club, we apply the same maintenance philosophy to our compressor as we would to the tax payer's military aircraft and as such we have never failed an air quality audit in the time I have been involved with the club (just on six years).

What I am suggesting is that the NZUA lobby the law makers to decrease the periodicity of air quality audits for operations whose compressor has a proven track record of passing air quality audits. May I be as bold to suggest that after three years of passing quarterly air quality audits the periodicity be increased to annual audits. Should an operator fail an annual audit, then they automatically revert to quarterly audits until they have three years of passes again.

The only problem I see with this suggestion is the NZUA gets a significant portion of its funding from air quality audits through its off-shoot company, Air Purity Limited.
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Re: How about increasing the time between Air Quality Audits

Postby ChuckyBob » Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:18 pm

Makes perfect sense. Probably never happen.

I know of at least one organisation that does not do air purity tests. Considering the requirements im not surprised.

Perhaps at the same time they could look at time between hydros and bring them in line with the rest of the world. Yeah right!
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Re: How about increasing the time between Air Quality Audits

Postby binklebonk » Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:12 am

Given that legislation is meant to catch the lowest common denominator, I wouldn't support a reduction from quarterly testing.

Everyone thinks their maintenance and equipment is top notch (it may well be) but such hubris is a sure sign of why we need regular testing. The longer we go without incident the greater the risk that the standards will slip.

We have had enough occurrences of CO poisoning from poorly maintained compressors (not privately owned ones) and that's with quarterly testing...
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Re: How about increasing the time between Air Quality Audits

Postby Mykl » Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:56 am

binklebonk wrote:Given that legislation is meant to catch the lowest common denominator, I wouldn't support a reduction from quarterly testing.

In other words, penalizing the compliant majority for the misdemeanors of the non-compliant few
.

Everyone thinks their maintenance and equipment is top notch (it may well be) but such hubris is a sure sign of why we need regular testing. The longer we go without incident the greater the risk that the standards will slip.

Let's be realistic here, before legislation came in requiring air quality audits, we didn't have divers dying every second weekend from poor quality air, and what about the dozens (if not hundreds) of privately operated compressors in backyard sheds and on boats that have never had an air quality audit. The air quality auditors are not stupid, they can see own maintenance and running logs and know if an operator has good systems and procedures and follows them.

We have had enough occurrences of CO poisoning from poorly maintained compressors (not privately owned ones) and that's with quarterly testing...


So why aren't we informed about those operators that fail air quality audits? After all the diving public are paying them good money for air that is supposed to meet a certain standard.
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Re: How about increasing the time between Air Quality Audits

Postby binklebonk » Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:01 am

Mykl wrote:Let's be realistic here, before legislation came in requiring air quality audits, we didn't have divers dying every second weekend from poor quality air, and what about the dozens (if not hundreds) of privately operated compressors in backyard sheds and on boats that have never had an air quality audit. The air quality auditors are not stupid, they can see own maintenance and running logs and know if an operator has good systems and procedures and follows them.



So why aren't we informed about those operators that fail air quality audits? After all the diving public are paying them good money for air that is supposed to meet a certain standard.


You start by asking for us to be realistic. Ok I'll bite.

You state (no doubt for rhetorical effect, but then hyperbolic rhetoric is often a red flag for a faulty premise) that as we didn't have divers dying from toxic gas fills every second weekend then why the need for legislation. I don't think you really believe the fatality rate should be that high before legislation is needed. So I ask, in all sincerity, how many deaths or injuries per year/decade from CO (or other contaminants) is acceptable to you in order for your club to save on testing fees? This is what it comes down to no? It is the case with roading black spot improvements and vehicle recalls so probably applies here as well.

On another note, read this coroner report http://www.divenewzealand.com/upasset/C ... vidson.pdf

The finding was that the CO was likely introduced to the tanks via the Dive Picton compressor, even though they had current purity certs. I don't think less rigorous testing will improve safety. Having that regular contact with someone testing should drive more attentiveness. Ideally anyway...
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Re: How about increasing the time between Air Quality Audits

Postby divepirate » Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:21 am

It is often a balance between overtesting and overregulation and the best (fairest) for all situation.
there will always be some who take shortcuts, or try to stretch out the time between replacing filters on their compressors in order to make a bit more money.

This is most likely to happen in an industry where costs are rising and the income is the same or stagnating.

It is great to know that the military dive club is taking good care of its equipment and this is where you are creating a good example for the rest of the industry, I would ask though would members of your dive club feel the same if you went to some other dive fill place who is not as rigourous as yourselves and became poisoned by contaminated air?
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Re: How about increasing the time between Air Quality Audits

Postby divepirate » Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:33 am

also caution.
bringing in line with the rest of the world could raise the need for annual hydros.
http://www.scubadoctor.com.au/article-cylinder-testing.htm

just food for thought.
once NZUA raise this with EPA, expect EPA to ask why AUS do it annually.
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Re: How about increasing the time between Air Quality Audits

Postby Mykl » Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:54 pm

On another note, read this coroner report http://www.divenewzealand.com/upasset/C ... vidson.pdf

The finding was that the CO was likely introduced to the tanks via the Dive Picton compressor, even though they had current purity certs. I don't think less rigorous testing will improve safety. Having that regular contact with someone testing should drive more attentiveness. Ideally anyway...[/quote]

It is interesting that you raise the issue of the Davidson Coroner's Report, I was going to use that in my next argument. Having been trained by Dive Picton (albeit by different owners from those that were mentioned in the report), and having used their airfills on numerous occasions, I am very familiar with this report and have read it several times. I have also talked to Bruce Carter the previous NZUA air quality auditor who gave evidence at the Coroners hearing. Bruce is certain the Dive Picton compressor had nothing to do with the introduction of CO into the Davidson cylinders and points out that the Department of Labour made no moves to prosecute Dive Picton over the incident. Bruce commented to me that if the DOL had even the smallest inkling that Dive Picton was culpable in the death of Davidson, they would have gone after Dive Picton like a Pit Bull. As you mentioned Dive Picton had a current air purity certificate yet it was accused of introducing CO into the Davidson cylinders even though other cylinders filled before and after the Davidson cylinders showed no evidence of CO contamination when tested. The university scientists who gave evidence at the hearing came up with a hypothesis about spontaneous combustion occurring within the filter medium but produced no proof that this happened. Frankly, I have no idea how the Coroner came up with his recommendation, but it provided the catalyst which results in the air purity testing that is carried out today.
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Re: How about increasing the time between Air Quality Audits

Postby binklebonk » Sat Apr 26, 2014 11:09 am

Mykl wrote:It is interesting that you raise the issue of the Davidson Coroner's Report, I was going to use that in my next argument. Having been trained by Dive Picton (albeit by different owners from those that were mentioned in the report), and having used their airfills on numerous occasions, I am very familiar with this report and have read it several times. I have also talked to Bruce Carter the previous NZUA air quality auditor who gave evidence at the Coroners hearing. Bruce is certain the Dive Picton compressor had nothing to do with the introduction of CO into the Davidson cylinders and points out that the Department of Labour made no moves to prosecute Dive Picton over the incident.
They didn't prosecute because there was no solid evidence either way as to whether the CO was introduced prior to filling at Dive Picton or during filling
Bruce commented to me that if the DOL had even the smallest inkling that Dive Picton was culpable in the death of Davidson, they would have gone after Dive Picton like a Pit Bull.
Not if they didn't have water tight evidence, it is costly bringing prosecutions.
As you mentioned Dive Picton had a current air purity certificate yet it was accused of introducing CO into the Davidson cylinders even though other cylinders filled before and after the Davidson cylinders showed no evidence of CO contamination when tested. The university scientists who gave evidence at the hearing came up with a hypothesis about spontaneous combustion occurring within the filter medium but produced no proof that this happened.
They were more than just "university scientists" one of them in particular had many years as an accident reconstruction consultant, one was a chemical process engineer and the other a phd in mechanical engineering. Remember that scientists will not give absolutes, they will give likelihood's within narrow parameters. Those with a less scientific approach will give more compelling opinions.
Frankly, I have no idea how the Coroner came up with his recommendation, but it provided the catalyst which results in the air purity testing that is carried out today.


If you read point 60 it suggests that the regime was already in existence and in a transition phase from the initial annual to biannual to quarterly testing. This incident did not cause the testing regime to be implemented.

The coroner dismissed Mr Carters evidence citing a lack of experience or knowledge of the processes whereby CO could be produced during the compression process (read point 58 in the summation, there seems to be many idiosyncrasies with the compressor in question). And in summing stated that reasonable elimination led to the conclusion that the compressor at Dive Picton was responsible. But that's not strong enough evidence for prosecution so none was forthcoming. It was a salutary reminder for everyone operating a compressor that transient events can have horrible consequences. Whether it was Dive Pictons fault or not isn't really the point IMO.

We rely on these things working exactly as they were designed, we are fallible, we fail in our intentions to be conscientious and meticulous and so we need oversight and regular testing of gas we breathe.

The recommendation the coroner made that CO monitors and alarms be fitted to all commercial compressors has not been implemented, maybe if this was done then maybe (?) we could reduce the frequency. Who knows...
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Re: How about increasing the time between Air Quality Audits

Postby Mykl » Sat Apr 26, 2014 9:37 pm

Binklebonk,

I'll concede to your points 58 and 60 in the Davidson Coroner's report, but seeing we are quoting individual paragraphs from the report, may I direct your attention to point 61 which states:

'61. If the Gooch Gilmour theory is correct and if the carbon monoxide was produced within the air compressor system at Divers World Picton, then the testing regimes were unlikely to detect the potential dangers in the system.'

If that is the case the use of this Coroner's report to argue for or against increased air quality audit periodicity is invalid.
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Re: How about increasing the time between Air Quality Audits

Postby binklebonk » Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:31 pm

I think we are converging on the same conclusion.

If the testing included looking for dangerous compressor idiosyncrasies (like the evidence of continual overheating) as well as a requirement for continuos CO monitoring (as the coroner recommended) then this would be far less likely to occur again.

So if you were to push for less frequent testing but more stringent criteria as well as CO monitoring I'd be 100% in favour.

Any idea what the cost of CO monitoring is?
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Re: How about increasing the time between Air Quality Audits

Postby ChuckyBob » Sun Apr 27, 2014 9:14 pm

I may be wrong ( 1st time for every thing) but I seem to recall some filter systems have a component that turns CO into CO2 and then a component that absorbs CO2 ( or converts it to O2??).

Given the size of the filters they would't catch a lot of CO or CO2 though.
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Re: How about increasing the time between Air Quality Audits

Postby DiveDR » Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:44 pm

You are never wrong !! This is the stuff you are thinking of Greg - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hopcalite

Generally this is used in compressors that have petrol engines due to the risks of CO from the exhaust but some people do use it as an additional filter material. In comparison to the other filter materials Hopcalite is an expensive product.

I agree the CO monitoring would be ideal but for most small filling stations it would be cost prohibitive.
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