Occupational Diving Operations

Service NL, Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Division adopted the CSA Z275.2-92 “Occupational Safety Code for Diving Operations” in September 2002 and the CSA Z275.4-97 “Competency Standard for Diving Operations” in March 2004 as minimum requirements for diving operations in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Updated versions of these standards are currently in effect, i.e. CSA Z275.2-04 and CSA Z275.4-02. All occupational diving operations (ie. commercial diving, underwater inspections and investigations, diving at intakes and outfalls, seafood harvesting, etc…) in the Province are required to adhere to these standards. It is recommended that you, as the employer or principal contractor, obtain a copy of these standards and ensure that the diving contractor is carrying out the specific diving operation in accordance with the requirements of these standards.

For your reference, a list of essential items identified in these standards has been compiled. It is important for you to be aware that these items are not the only items OHS Officers may look for when carrying out diving site inspections at your workplace or dive site. To ensure compliance with the diving legislation, conformance to these standards is a minimum requirement.

All diving contractors should prepare a comprehensive diving safety plan and submit this plan to you for review. The diving plan should address, as a minimum, the following:

  • Contamination – The diving plan shall identify the measures to identify and control potential dive site contamination hazards.
  • Competency – The diving plan shall identify the number of persons involved in the diving operation and outline the dive team roles and responsibilities. Qualifications of the dive team per diving discipline must be included with competency records of the diving team. Records should include all relevant training and experience for the specific diving task. The CSA Z275.4-02 “Competency Standard for Diving Operation” applies.
  • Medical Certification – The diving plan shall include copies of up-to-date diving medicals for all in-water and potential in-water diving personnel. Diving medicals are only acceptable if the physician is registered with the Workplace Health and Safety Compensation Commission (WHSCC) as a diving physician. Diving medicals in Newfoundland and Labrador are required every two years up to age 39, annually thereafter, or more frequently as determined by the examining physician.
  • Contingency Plan – The diving contractor shall include a contingency plan which clearly outlines the protocols to be implemented in the event of an emergency. This includes availability of hyperbaric facilities, transport to hyperbaric facility protocols, first aid certifications, Oxygen administration and supply, backup equipment, etc…
  • Breathing Air – The diving contractor shall provide up-to-date- verification of breathing air purification analysis for the breathing air to be used for the project (includes compressors and cylinders or other breathing air systems). Presently the Standards Council of Canada has accredited five labs across Canada to conduct air purity analysis as per the CSA standard. One such lab is the Medicor Laboratory at the Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland. Breathing Air Analysis Certification is required every six months.
  • Work Recordings – The diving plan shall include copies of the diver’s logs to be used for each diver as well as the daily work logs for each dive. All divers are encouraged to record their individual dives on a personal diving log.
  • Work Site Identification – The diving plan shall include all measures necessary to identify the location of the diving personnel when in water and the surface location of the diving operations.
  • Diving Mode – The diving contractor shall identify the exact method of diving and include along with competency requirements the divers experience and training with the devices used for this mode of diving. (ie. SCUBA or Surface Supplied)
  • Work Scope / Co-ordination of Work – The diving contractor shall include a detailed work scope, and hazard assessment, with particular emphasis on the protocols to be implemented to arrange / organize the work in a manner to minimize potential hazardous exposure to all diving personnel. ( ie. Entrapment / entanglement hazards)
  • Communications – The diving contractor shall identify the mechanism for the establishment of communications between the in-water diver and surface support personnel. (ie. voice communications, line pull signals, etc…)
  • Decompression Procedures and Tables – The plan shall include reference to the diving tables to be used for the specific project and identify familiarity with the application of the tables. CSA references the following dive tables as acceptable (ie. US Navy or DCIEM)
  • Minimum Crew – The diving contractor shall outline the minimum crew required for the specific diving project and identify the roles / responsibilities (plus competencies) per individual diving discipline. For SCUBA diving the CSA Standard identifies a minimum crew of three personnel. One being a diver, one a standby diver and one a diver’s tender. If two divers are in the water, the CSA standard requires that the crew consist of four personnel, one being the in-water diver, the second diver being the in-water tender (this diver is tethered to the surface and is only permitted to observe the other diver), a standby diver and a diver’s tender. If the work cannot be performed in a tethered mode, the crew size is still four with two divers in the water (buddy diving) and on surface a standby and tender. In all cases noted, the CSA Standard indicates that one of the two personnel on the surface shall be designated as the diving supervisor. All personnel including the diving supervisor must meet the competency requirements of the CSA Competency Standard.
  • Diving Cylinders – The diving contractor shall include records of visual inspections and hydrostatic testing for all breathing air cylinders which may be used. Visual Inspections are required every year while Hydrostatic tests are required every five years.
  • Harbour Traffic – The diving plan shall identify the specific procedures to be implemented to notify the proper agencies when and where harbour traffic poses a hazard to the dive team.
  • Site Specific Dive Plan – The dive plan shall include a site specific dive plan for each and every diving operation. This plan shall include items referred to in item #9 Work Scope / Co-ordination of Work, as well.

As indicated earlier, these items are some of the requirements outlined in the CSA Standards. The employer, principal contractor and diving contractor shall ensure that all diving operations are carried out in accordance with the minimum requirements of the CSA diving Standards.

Should you have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to call (709) 729-1932.