Commercial diving/Introduction to Diving Legislation

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Relevance: Scuba diving, Surface supplied diving, Surface oriented wet bell diving.

This section refers to legislation, standards and guidance documents that apply to commercial diving in South Africa.

They will generally not apply to diving in other countries. Please do not change the content of this section to include other countries, rather create a new section for each country.

Required outcomes:

  1. Understand relevant sections of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, as amended and applicable regulation including general administration in context of commercial diving
  2. Explain the Occupational Health and Safety diving regulations, as amended
  3. Explain the requirements of the Diving Regulations Codes of Practice for Inshore Diving as well as the scope of application, and explain the scopes of application for the other Diving Regulation Code of Practice for Diving
  4. Explain the scope of the Mine Health and Safety Act, as amended insofar as they affect diving
  5. Explain the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, as amended in relation to commercial diving
  6. Understand scope of application of guidance documents, including International Oil and Gas Producers IOGP), International Maritime Contractors Association (IMCA), Safety, Environmental Legislation (SEL), Training, Certification and Personnel Competence (TCPC) and any other relevant guidance (in offshore context)
  7. Understand the scope of application of the National Defence Paper – SANOP 96 in terms of diving
  8. Understand SANS, especially SANS 10019 sections relating to the filling and use of high pressure gas cylinders, including vessels under pressure, in the context of diving.

Legislation, standards and guidance documents that apply to commercial diving in South Africa[edit | edit source]

The diver needs to know the legal framework of the acts, regulations and standards that specifically apply to commercial diving in the South African context.

  • Be aware of the more pertinent Regulations and Standards that apply in general to diving equipment and operations.
  • Know the detail of the Laws , Regulations, Codes of Practice and Standards that govern activities as a diver

Statutory law and regulations include:

  • In South Africa, The Occupational Health and Safety Act # 85 of 1993 generally applies to persons at work. This Act is administered by the S.A. Department of Labour
  • The Diving Regulations 2009 of the OHS Act specifically apply to Commercial Diving operations.
  • Other laws and regulations may apply depending on circumstances.

Codes of practice include:

  • The Codes of Practice for Diving and the Diver Training Standards produced by the Diving Advisory Council of the Department of Labour are authorised by the Diving Regulations
  • The IMCA International Code of Practice for Offshore Diving IMCA D014

National and international standards pertaining to commercial diving include:

  • SANS 10019 – applies to gas cylinders and the filling and handling of cylinders
  • EN 250 – applies to diving regulators DVs etc

What the commercial diver needs to know[edit | edit source]

  • As an Employee, relevant sections of the Occupational Health and Safety Act
  • As an Employee, relevant sections of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act
  • As a Diver, relevant sections of the Diving Regulations and other regulations of the OHS Act
  • As a Diver, relevant sections of the Codes of Practice for Inshore Diving, Scientific Diving and Diving in Benign Conditions
  • As a Diver, the requirements of the Class IV, III, and II Diver Training Standards as applicable.
  • As a Compressor Operator, relevant sections of SANS 10019

The Occupational Health and Safety Act[edit | edit source]

Purpose of the OHS Act:

To provide for the health and safety of persons at work and for the health and safety of persons in connection with the use of plant and machinery; the protection of persons other than persons at work against hazards to health and safety arising out of or in connection with the activities of persons at work; to establish an advisory council for occupational health and safety; and to provide for matters connected therewith

Relevant sections of the OHS Act[edit | edit source]

  • Definitions: most, with special reference to “Mandatary”, and “Reasonably practicable”
  • Section 8: General duties of employers to their employees
  • Section 14: General duties of employees at work
  • Section 26: Victimisation forbidden
  • Section 37: Acts or omissions by employees or mandataries

Relevant sections of the COID Act[edit | edit source]

  • Definitions: Accident, Employer, Employee, Occupational disease
  • Procedures to be followed when reporting an accident or occupational disease by the employee

Regulations of the OHS Act[edit | edit source]

  1. Diving Regulations 2009 (very important)
  2. Other regulations (some relevance)
    • General safety regulations 1986
    • Driven machinery regulations 1988
    • General machinery regulations 1988
    • Pressure equipment regulations 2004

Relevant sections of the Diving Regulations[edit | edit source]

(This will probably change within a year or so with the revision of the DR)

  • Section 1: Definitions
  • Section 2: Scope of application
  • Section 3: Client
  • Section 4: Diving contractor
  • Section 5: Diving project plan
  • Section 9: Diving supervisors
  • Section 10: Divers
  • Section 15: Chamber operators and operation of chambers
  • Section 20: Medical examinations and medical fitness
  • Section 21: Operations Manual
  • Section 22: Control of diving operations
  • Section 24: Training standards, assessments and Codes of Practice
  • Section 25: Application for registration
  • Section 26: Records
  • Section 27: Withdrawal of certificate of registration
  • Section 29: Notification of diving operations
  • Section 30: Offences and penalties
  • Annexure A: Minimum details for personal logbooks, Part 2
  • Annexure C: Minimum manning levels

General safety regulations 1986[edit | edit source]

  • Section 2: Personal safety equipment and facilities
  • Section 3: First aid, emergency equipment, and procedures

Driven machinery regulations 1988[edit | edit source]

  • Section 2: Revolving machinery
  • Section 14: Air compressors
  • Section 18: Lifting machines and lifting tackle

General machinery regulations 1988[edit | edit source]

  • Definitions: Competent person
  • Section 2: Supervision of machinery
  • Section 3: Safeguarding of machinery

Pressure equipment regulations 2004[edit | edit source]

  • Definitions: Transportable gas container,
  • Section 2: Scope of application
  • Section 6: Duties of users
  • Section 9: Pressure equipment marking
  • Section 18: Transportable gas containers

What is a Code of Practice for diving?[edit | edit source]

  • The Codes are issued in terms of Regulation 24 of the Diving Regulations, 2009 and are based on the principles of providing a workplace that is safe and without risks to health.
  • The Codes are not an authoritative summary of the law, nor do they create additional rights and obligations. Failure to observe the Code does not, by itself, render a person liable in any proceedings. Nevertheless when courts interpret and apply the Diving Regulations with respect to the type of diving procedures covered by this Code, they must consider them (the Codes).
  • Employers, employees and their organizations should use these Codes to develop, implement and refine their diving practices to address the health and safety issues in their own workplaces. The codes should specifically be consulted when preparing operations manuals.
  • The code is intentionally general, because every person and situation is unique and departures from the guidelines in this code may be justified in appropriate circumstances. However, whenever deviation from this code is contemplated, such deviation must be clearly stated and outlined in the operations manual. An additional HIRA that specifically covers the deviations must be performed and recorded, containing the following aspects:
    • Diving and working practice planned
    • How the practice deviates from this code
    • Specific reason(s) for the deviation
    • Which specific hazards are introduced because of the deviation
    • How these specific hazards are addressed to mitigate the risk


  • A Code of Practice for Diving is a document providing advice on accepted good practice which in most conditions provides a legally acceptable level of safety.
  • Adherence to the advice given in any given code is not compulsory, but if not followed, the Diving Contractor and Client are responsible for ensuring that the planning and conduct of the operation are acceptably safe in terms of the OHS Act and Diving Regulations.

Which code of practice should be used?[edit | edit source]

The choice of which code is to be applied depends on the work to be done, where it is done, and the status of the client for which it is to be done

Code of Practice for Inshore Diving[edit | edit source]

  • This is the default Code, If it is not clear which code to use, this is an acceptable choice.
  • Scuba diving by Class IV Divers will fall under the Code of Practice for Inshore Diving unless one of the other Codes of Practice is specifically authorised by the Diving Contractor for the diving project or operation.

Code of Practice for Scientific Diving[edit | edit source]

  • This code specifically covers operations where diving is performed as a necessary part of a scientific, research or educational activity by employees whose purpose for diving is to perform scientific research tasks; or tasks in support of scientific research activities provided that the research is being carried out by organizations which are members of the South African Network for Coastal and Oceanic Research (or another similar professional research body) or in association with a recognized institution for higher learning (e.g. a university).
Relevant sections of the Code of Practice for Scientific Diving[edit | edit source]
  • Section 1. Introduction
    • 1.2. Status of the Code
    • 1.3. Work Covered by the Code
  • Section 4. Duties and Responsibilities
    • 4.4. The Divers
  • Section 5. Relationships
    • 5.2. Employer and employee relationships
    • 5.5. The Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Diving Regulations, other Acts and other Regulations
  • Section 6. Work Planning and Working Equipment
    • Most sections
  • Section 7. Personnel
    • Most sections
  • Section 8. Medical
    • 8.6. Fitness on the day of diving
    • 8.7. Fitness screening

Relevant sections of SANS 10019[edit | edit source]

  • Section 3. Definitions: Charging pressure, competent person, compressed gas, developed pressure, maximum permissible operating pressure, cylinder, special gas, reference temperature, test pressure,
  • Section 5.5.2 exceptions
  • Section 8.1 Permanent marking
  • Section 8.3 Permanent marking following revalidation
  • Section 8.4 Maintenance of permanent marking
  • Section 8.5 colour coding of containers – 8.5.1,
  • Section 8.5.4 Containers for gases for which specific colour markings have not been allocated
  • Section 8.5.6 Containers for SCBA or SCUBA use
  • Section 8.6 Labelling
  • Section Breathing gas
  • Section 9 Filling of containers
  • Section 9.1 General
  • Section 9.2 persons competent to fill containers
  • Section 9.3 filling with permanent gases
  • Section 9.3.1 Inspection before filling
  • Section 9.3.2 Inspection after filling
  • Section 9.5 Filling of containers already in use
  • Section 9.6 Compressed air for SCBA and SCUBA
  • Section 10 Handling, storage, transport and use: - 10.1, 10.2.1, 10.3, 10.4,
  • Section 11 General safety precautions
  • Table 3 properties and pressure groups of permanent gases
  • Table 4 permanent gases: charging pressures and corresponding developed pressures
  • Table 11 colour marking of cylinders
  • Table 12 Pre-fill inspection rejection criteria for all cylinders other than welded LPG cylinders
  • Table 14 Impurities in compressed air for breathing
  • Annex B Frequency of inspection and tests
  • Annex C Schedule of SCUBA and SCBA cylinder colour coding and labels

Duties and responsibilities of dive team personnel[edit | edit source]

Diving Supervisors:[edit | edit source]

The Overall Supervisor of a diving operation is appointed in writing by the Diving Contractor

The scope of responsibility of a diving supervisor may include:

  • Development and maintenance of a safe and supportive working environment for commercial diving operations:
  • Management of the logistics of a diving operation
  • Supervision of diving operations as the appointed diving supervisor:
  • Management of the emergency scene at a diving accident
  • Compliance with statutory requirements
  • Compliance with the Diving Contractor’s Operations Manual
  • Guidance by the relevant Code of Practice

Divers:[edit | edit source]

  1. Divers must have:
    • Valid Department of Labour certification as divers of the appropriate class for the planned operation.
    • A valid medical certificate of fitness.
    • An in-date Level 1 first aid certificate of competence
  2. Divers must:
    • Carry out the reasonable instructions of the supervisor
    • Stay in date.
    • Maintain themselves in a condition fit to dive.
    • To the best of their ability ensure their own safety and that of their fellow dive team members.
  3. Pre-dive, Divers must:
    • Maintain their log-books correctly and have them available on site or at the launch area.
    • Ensure that they are aware of and understand the dive plan and emergency procedures as explained in the briefing
    • Check that their personal diving equipment is in good working order before diving
    • Ensure they are competent in the operation of equipment they may be required to use during the operation
    • Inform the supervisor of any reasons why they can not or should not do any particular dive, or if they feel their safety is compromised by any personal health or operational factors.
  4. During diving operations, Divers must:
    • Monitor the depth and run time of the dive
    • Monitor their personal gas supply and the adequate functioning of their equipment
    • Ensure their own safety and as far as reasonably possible the safety of other divers.
    • Adhere to the planned dive schedule where practicable
    • Perform the allotted task to the best of their ability within the constraints of the above requirements
  5. Post-dive, Divers must:
    • Ensure that their equipment is cleaned and properly stored.
    • Report any malfunctions, damage to or losses of equipment
    • Report on their performance of the allotted tasks, and make recommendations if applicable.
    • Log their dives, sign and have the supervisor countersign within 24 hours after diving.
    • Report all symptoms of diving related injury immediately and accurately
    • Avoid activities which increase the risk of DCI after diving.

Stand-by divers:[edit | edit source]

  1. The stand by diver shall
    • Be available for immediate deployment in case of an in-water emergency
    • Be qualified, competent, in date and fit to perform search and rescue procedures appropriate to the conditions expected during the diving operation.
    • Be informed of and be fully aware of the dive plan and any changes to it made during the dive.
    • Assist the Supervisor and surface support team when reasonably practicable without downgrading availability for in-water assistance.
  2. Pre-dive:
    • Prepare for diving operations as specified for divers.
    • After pre-dive checks are completed some equipment may be removed and placed in readiness at the supervisor/s discretion to avoid undue discomfort to the stand-by diver.
  3. During the dive:
    • Remain available at the control point at all times unless an alternative is appointed by the supervisor
    • Remain in a state of readiness to perform appropriate assistance as may be directed by the supervisor.
  4. Post dive
    • Ensure that their equipment is clean and properly stored.

Surface tenders:[edit | edit source]

  1. The surface tender must:
    • Be informed of and be fully aware of the dive plan and any changes to it made during the dive.
    • Know the line signals to be used and be competent at both transmitting them to the diver and receiving them from the diver.
    • Be aware of and understand the procedures and signals required for tending the diver.
    • Assist the diver in kitting up and performing pre-dive checks.
    • Assist the divers into and out of the water as required.
    • Help transfer equipment to and from divers in the water as required.
    • Observe the movements of the divers as shown by bubbles, surface markers and line directions to keep track of the positions of the various divers and ensure they do not risk entanglement in each other’s equipment.
    • Communicate with the divers by line signals as appropriate, and communicate with the supervisor regarding such signals.
    • Tend the lifeline or umbilical of the diver at all times while the diver is in the water.
    • Keep a lookout for potential hazards and inform the supervisor if necessary.
    • Keep the control area neat and safe during operations.
    • Assist the supervisor in case of emergency.
    • Assist the diver in kitting down and retrieving and stowing equipment used on the dive.