Conducting safe diving operations
at your workplace
In a recent incident, a diver with recreational certification was hired by a diving company to remove dead fish from the bottom of a floating pen on a fish farm. The diver met with difficulties underwater and could not be rescued in time.
Divers employed in British Columbia must comply with the requirements of Part 24 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation. The responsibility for compliance rests not only with the employer of the divers but also with the owner of the site who contracts with the diving company.
Each occupational diver must meet the requirements of CSA Standard Z275.4-97 Competency Standard for Diving Operations. Documentation regarding each certification must be available at the dive site.
Each diver, dive supervisor, and diver's tender must be qualified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), dive accident management, and oxygen therapy. Documentation must be available at the dive site regarding those qualifications.
Each occupational diver must be certified as medically fit to dive. The only acceptable medical documentation is provided by WorkSafeBC. The medical certification must be available at the dive site.
NOTE: Recreational certification (such as PADI or NAUI)
is not acceptable for occupational diving in
A knowledgeable and competent diving supervisor must supervise each occupational diving operation. The supervisor must be competent in the techniques being used, must remain on-site, and must be in direct control of the diving operation.
A minimum crew of three must be present at each diving operation and must include at least two divers and a diver's supervisor/tender. The minimum crew requirement will change according to depth, equipment usage, degree of hazard, and other conditions. A larger crew may be required in some cases.
Notice of project (NOP) for diving activity
The employer must submit an NOP for diving activity or notify WorkSafeBC by telephone at least 24 hours before starting some diving operations. Refer to Part 24.9 of the Regulation for specific requirements.
Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba) restrictions
Restrictions apply to the use of scuba for occupational diving purposes. Scuba cannot be used for underwater construction, demolition, salvage and recovery, jetting, blasting, welding or cutting, penetrations or in other areas if the diver is exposed to a hazard such as differentials of pressure, excessive flows, confined spaces, contaminated environments, or entrapment. Surface-supplied diving equipment must be used in place of scuba.
The use of recirculating apparatus (rebreathers) for occupational diving operations must be approved by WorkSafeBC. For permission, call WorkSafeBC at 604 276-3100 or toll-free 1 888 621-7233 and ask for the diving coordinator.
Scuba must be limited to a depth of 40 metres (130 feet) and the use of air as respirable medium restricted to 50 metres (165 feet). Beyond 50 metres, the diver must breathe mixed gases and must have documented approval on-site from WorkSafeBC to use such gases.
Recompression chamber requirements
Depending on a dive's planned depth and duration, a recompression chamber may be required. If decompression diving is planned, the recompression chamber would have to be located either within 30 minutes of the dive site by surface transport or at the dive site itself. Discuss the requirements for a recompression chamber with your diving supervisor.
A standby diver must be on the dive site at all times and available to help when diving operations are in progress. The standby diver must be able to enter the water in one minute.
Safe dive procedures
Every employer engaged in diving operations must prepare and publish a set of site-specific safe diving procedures that must be available at the dive site. These procedures should be based on a comprehensive evaluation of hazards to divers.
Specific diving hazards
Before a diver enters the water, all hazardous mechanisms including intakes, pipes, and tunnels must be locked out and secured against inadvertent movement. Where there is an exceptional risk of entrapment and loss of a diver's life support system, additional team members must be available for rescue at the dive site.
A complete operational plan must be available on-site before diving begins in contaminated environments. This operational plan should among other requirements identify the contaminants, the special equipment or clothing required, and the first aid needed for treating exposure to the specific contaminants.
Owners who contract diving companies to work at their site must provide the diving company with the information necessary to control hazards. Also, the owner must ensure that diving activities are coordinated.
For further information, call WorkSafeBC at 604 276-3100 or toll-free 1 888 621-7233 and ask for the diving coordinator.
(replaces WS 03-01)
WorkSafeBC Prevention Information Line: (604) 276-3100 or toll-free 1-888-621-SAFE (7233) or visit our web site at www.WorkSafeBC.com