OSHA Orders Reduction in Work Hazards for Divers

Commercial divers have some of the most physically demanding jobs out there. Long periods of time spent in cold, murky water can cause a host of physical ailments, and the work often also involves construction or demolition projects executed with dangerous equipment.

Proper training of both diver employees and their employers is essential, and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issues standards by which commercial diving operations must be conducted.

OSHA recently updated Part 1910, Subpart T of the regulations related to commercial diving. The changes are found in Directive Number CPL-02-00-151 issued June 13, 2011.

The regulations clarify that underwater inspections of infrastructures such as bridges are no longer considered “scientific inquiry” under the standards, and thus all regulations related to commercial diving apply to inspection dives.

The update also clarifies the minimum number of dive team members required for various types of dives. For example, a diver using SCUBA gear requires at least three dive team members: the designated person in charge, a standby diver and a line-tending diver. A surface-air dive, or bell dive, requires two dive team members: a designated person in charge and a tending diver. In addition, in circumstances where the danger level for the diver is high, a standby diver may also be required.

In addition, the regulations clarify other important issues as well, including:

•· Acceptable types of training for members of a commercial dive team

•· Whether an employer is responsible for safety equipment when the employee/diver owns the equipment

•· Whether diving in an elevated water tank falls under the regulations

•· Duties of diver tenders

•· Authority of investigators to ensure the safety of commercial divers

If you or a loved one has been injured while employed as a diver, you may be entitled to compensation. Please contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your situation.