‘Under Pressure’

‘Under Pressure’, by Gareth Lock

Encouraged by the comments of a former U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt, who wrote that,   “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…”, I have no hesitation in stating that Gareth Lock’s book, ‘Under Pressure’ , is not an easy read; neither, at a personal level  – having occasionally, and inadvertently, put myself in harm’s way – is it a comfortable one.

It is, however, a book whose advice and comments will pay dividends to all who put a premium on safety.  Especially those who cleave to the view that allowing one’s body to travel anywhere that the brain hasn’t first visited at least several hours in advance of the dive, is an act of pure folly.

A masterwork from the originator of the, ‘Human Factors Skills in Diving’ programme, Gareth Lock’s book, ‘Under Pressure’, places the emphasis on the underlying reasons behind the decision-making process rather than on the, ‘do-as-I-say-and-all-will-be-well’ approach to safety.

Using case studies of real-life diving incidents and near-misses – many of which have been contributed by well known diving identities – ‘Under Pressure’ avoids the blame-game model, focusing instead on helping the reader understand, “the strengths and weaknesses of human performance in an ambiguous and uncertain world”, through a succession of chapters that build on one another to highlight the fact that fallibility is part of the human condition and that, “Safety is not the absence of accidents and incidents.  It is the presence of barriers and defences, and the ability of the system to fail safely.”

As the author states, “Divers, in the main, don’t get up in the morning and decide today is a good day to make a monumental cock-up that could cost me, my buddy, or my student’s life.  Whatever they have done makes sense and if we are to improve diving safety, we need to understand that local rationality.”  ‘Under Pressure’ sets out to do just that.

To repeat my earlier comment, ‘Under Pressure’, is not an easy read, but having once dipped into it, it’s one that demands to be re-visited again and again, rather than joining the ranks of so many other books on diving safety that, once read, are left to gather dust on the bookshelf.

On sale through Amazon, ‘Under Pressure’, by Gareth Lock, is available in either a Kindle or print version at:  https://amzn.to/2pivtUX

Categories: Book Reviews

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