Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) FAQs

Q: What is HIRA?

The DAN Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) program is a direct adaption of the institutional safety programs used in healthcare and aerospace. It is designed to teach you to identify risks and hazards that affect you, your staff, your customers and your business before they can cause an injury or loss. The goal of the program is to teach you to evaluate yourself, whether you have been in business for three years or three decades. The program gives you tools to assess your business and address new hazards or risks you may have overlooked and fix commonplace issues that may put you at risk.

Q: Is HIRA just for dive shops?

The DAN HIRA program is designed for all dive professionals. Whether you are a divemaster, instructor, charter operator, shop owner or run a business that offers watersports as a secondary source of income, HIRA can be applied to your operation. Because of the broad user base for the program, not all facets will be applicable to all operations — it is up to you to determine which portions of the program you stand to benefit from. This is a tool designed to help you manage your own risk — not an audit or compliance program. The goal is to help capable and driven operators improve their businesses and reduce their liability.

Q: What do I stand to gain from the HIRA program?

Even dive professionals who do not have brick-and-mortar facilities to contend with still face numerous hazards both in and out of the water. Being able to identify problems with operations, liability management and even customers is crucial to professionals’ ability to protect themselves and their students and operate successfully. Dive professionals still face risks from teaching, transporting equipment and students, running or organizing charters and many other necessary aspects of a dive business. These concerns are frequently overlooked, and they put dive professionals in harm’s way. The DAN HIRA program was designed to remedy that and keep you safe while you teach and protect your students.

As a dive operator, the HIRA program will introduce you to entirely new fields of risk management and liability. Organized risk management, as seen in aerospace and healthcare, has not been adopted in the diving industry, even though the same types of lawsuits and losses occur. Risk is everywhere in the dive industry, and it’s easy to take that for granted or overlook the hazards. As operators and as people responsible for the safety of our employees and customers, that is something we cannot afford. The DAN HIRA program is one way for us to check ourselves and make sure that we are not taking safety for granted. Absence of accidents does not necessarily indicate safety.

Q: Why is HIRA Level III not available for instructors?

A HIRA Level 3 is the most significant and in-depth level of the program. It is designed to encompass every facet of business and diving operations, including human resources management, employment law and employee occupational safety, and a suite of business-specific concerns. HIRA 3 can only be fully utilized by those who own or are responsible for a brick-and-mortar operation.

Q: Does the HIRA program cost anything?

The DAN HIRA program was designed to help the dive industry thrive, reduce businesses’ losses and prevent injuries. The dive industry cannot survive without its professionals, and improving dive safety cannot be limited to just recreational divers. It is provided at no cost to DAN Pro and Business Members as a proactive way of promoting safety in our communities and keeping our industry thriving.

Q: What does DAN do with information from HIRA surveys?

All information provided during the HIRA surveys is 100 percent confidential. The information you provide is anonymized before it is used in data analysis for future program improvements. You are the only person who can access your survey results unless you request consultation from the DAN Risk Management team.

Q: I’ve been in business for decades without issues; why should I consider risk mitigation now?

A history of safe and successful operation is a good indication that your business is healthy and well run, but it does not mean that you are not at risk. Risk will always exist, despite all best efforts. DAN’s HIRA program allows you to take a second look at your operation with a critical eye and an extensive set of criteria. It’s all too easy for even the most experienced among us to become complacent and overlook old hazards or new risks that have arisen. Going through the program may reinforce that your risks are well managed, but the process is at least as valuable as its, result and you’ll be able to set a baseline by which you can measure future hazards and operations.

Q: Will HIRA affect my insurance rates?

Whether formalized risk management programs such as the DAN HIRA program will affect your insurance rates directly depends on your insurance provider, but reducing claims individually and as an industry will result in a downward trend in insurance rates and may thus benefit both you and the industry at large. Additionally, the program can help reduce the risk of litigation, or liability in a potential lawsuit.

Q: What are the top risks for most shops?

Every operation is unique, but incident and loss data from across the industry shows that a small number of hazards consistently cause problems. Below are the most common hazards seen in operations of all types:

  1. Carbon monoxide contamination
  2. Hazardous tank filling procedures
  3. Lack of written and practiced emergency action plans
  4. Fear of or lack of training in identifying customers who are a hazard to themselves and refusing service

Q: What do the air quality test results mean, and can I perform the test myself?

Air quality tests determine the level of tested contaminants in a gas supply at the time of testing. They are not guarantees of quality air for a period of time or definitive indications that a compressor is functioning appropriately. Performing the test is not difficult but does require care and precision. For more information about what contaminants to test for and how to do so, download the HIRA Guide 2nd Edition 2019.

Q: What EAPs are most important for my business, and how should I present them in my shop?

EAPs are unique to specific businesses and operations. There are very few EAPs that apply to every operation, and the individual plans must be created with a specific business in mind. Once a HIRA level is completed, you will have a better idea of the risks your operation faces and will be best able to create the EAPs your operation requires. For example EAPs or tools to create yours, download the HIRA Guide 2nd Edition 2019.

Q: Do I have the right to refuse a customer, and if so, how do I do it?

A Right of refusal is a critical part of all businesses and something that many in the dive industry have misinterpreted or never been educated on. It is important to understand that as long as you have a written and publicly available policy, you have the absolute right to refuse a customer for any reasonable safety or health concern. Moreover, if a customer presents a safety hazard to themselves or you or your staff, you have an obligation to refuse service in a polite and appropriate way — for the safety of all involved. More information on right of refusal and public refusal policies, read Right of Refusal.