The scene at a pier near an AquaChile farm site where a diver died in an accident in March last year. Photo: Giovanni Aguilar Vera.

AquaChile commits to improving diver safety

Chile’s largest salmon farmer, AquaChile, has committed to a series of initiatives to improve the safety of divers working at its sites.

Published Last updated

The initiatives follow talks the company has had with National Union of Divers president Claudio Faúndez Quintullanca about the general conditions in which diving tasks are carried out in salmon farms and what actions were necessary to permanently strengthen standards.

“For us, the safety of the people who work in our facilities is key,” said AquaChile production manager José Manuel Schwerter in a press release.

“It seems important to us to join forces with the National Union of Divers to prevent risks, advance greater safety of diving tasks by protecting people and strengthen the review and supervision of the contractor companies that develop them.”

Claudio Faúndez: "Working together brings greater security for all."

Training actions

Faúndez said: “The dialogue and coordination that we are having with AquaChile is important, since this type of collaboration will help us advance greater safety in diving activity. Working together brings greater security for all.”

The parties agreed on the need to:

  • Carry out permanent training actions at all levels.
  • Execute actions to control operations.
  • Require the occupational health and occupational accident insurance administrations to introduce improvements in all matters relating to divers.
  • Participate actively in the review of the regulations and standards that govern diving activities, so that they adequately reflect the needs of the activity.

In addition, AquaChile and the National Union of Divers agreed to maintain regular contact to review the conditions of diving tasks, plus scheduled quarterly meetings and special meetings to be added in the event of contingencies.

AquaChile has also carried out an in-depth review process to strengthen the safety and surveillance of diving tasks. New and more stringent protocols, training, and revision of the professional and technical competencies of diving contracting companies have been specified, along with the incorporation of technology to contribute to diving tasks.

Farm fatalities

In October last year, a diver died after a serious fall on board a boat at AquaChile’s Lagrezze site in the Aysén region.

Prior to that, in March, diving supervisor Juan Ruiz Gallardo died and intermediate diver Maikel Salazar Rojas received injuries related to serious fractures in an accident at an AquaChile site at Melinka in Aysén. Both men worked for Marinetech Servicios Marítimos, a Puerto Montt-based company which provides services to the salmon industry.

In 2019, 16 commercial divers – incuding some working at salmon farms – died during the course of their work in Chile.