Divers who spend extended periods of time underwater run the risk of drowning, circulatory and respiratory problems, and hypothermia, according to OSHA. The updated guidance is intended to ensure consistent enforcement and compliance with OSHA's commercial diving operations standards.
The guidance includes the following changes:
- Provides OSHA compliance officers, consultants, and other interested government and industry parties with information to support interventions involving commercial diving operations and to minimize employee exposure to hazards.
- Provides additional answers to frequently asked questions.
- Provides additional clarification of the requirements and duties of diver tenders.
- Updates the instruction to ensure the current editions of other OSHA instructions and industry standards and manuals are referenced.
- Updates instructions related to no-decompression air dives based on a revision to the U.S. Navy Diving Manual.
- Adds electronic links to enhance Web-based usability.
- Included in the directive are inspection procedures for before, during, and after dives, equipment maintenance, and recordkeeping requirements.
OSHA originally issued its commercial diving standard in 1977. In 1985, the agency published a Federal Register notice that exempted scientific diving from the commercial diving standard's requirements if those diving operations met certain conditions. The standard was amended in 2004 to allow recreational diving instructors and guides to comply with an alternative set of requirements instead of the decompression chamber requirements in the existing standard.
Among the new frequently asked questions is the question, Are diving operations involving the underwater inspection of bridges and other submerged structures considered to be "scientific diving" and, if so, what standards apply to these divers? The answer: The exemption from OSHA's commercial diving standard for scientific diving would not be applicable to underwater inspections of bridges or other submerged structures.
The directive is available on the OSHA website, along with commercial diving standards specific to shipyard employment, marine terminals and longshoring, hazards and solutions, and safety and health programs.
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August 18, 2011
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