Diving

Diving work can be very dangerous. As a person conducting a business or undertaking, you have a duty to keep workers and workplaces safe from the risks of diving. 

Diving happens in many industries and professions, including construction, research, photography, aquaculture and tourism. 

It falls under 2 major categories: 

  • general diving work 

  • high risk diving work 

WHS duties  

Everyone in the workplace has work health and safety duties under the model WHS Act. The model WHS Regulations have duties that apply to diving work. 

As a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), you must manage the risks of diving work, including: 

  • ensuring people doing diving work are fit and competent 

  • ensuring people’s health and safety in the workplace. 

Before diving work starts, you must sight a diver’s: 

  • written evidence that they have relevant training to do the work 

  • current certificate of medical fitness. 

Specific diving WHS duties are detailed in Part 4.8 of the model WHS Regulations

As a PCBU, you must, so far as is reasonably practicable:  

  • ensure the health and safety of workers and others at your workplace  

  • consult with workers who carry out work for the business or undertaking and who are (or are likely to be) directly affected by a health and safety matter, and 

  • consult cooperate and coordinate activities with all other relevant duty holders. 

Diver competence 

A competent person in general diving work has training, qualifications or experience, knowledge and skill in: 

  • diving physics 

  • using, inspecting and maintaining diving equipment (including emergency equipment) and the air supply they’ll be using 

  • decompression tables or dive computers 

  • dive planning 

  • ways of communicating with others in the water and on the surface 

  • safely doing the proposed general diving work 

  • diving physiology, emergency procedures and first aid. 

A diver must have a training organisation-issued certificate for general diving work, unless they’re doing: 

  • incidental diving  

  • limited scientific diving 

Regulations 172 and 173 in the model WHS Regulations have information on these types of diving work. 

High risk diving work 

High risk diving work is work done in or under water while breathing compressed gas and involves: 

  • construction work 

  • testing, maintenance or repair work 

  • inspection work to determine if construction, testing, maintenance or repair is required 

  • recovering or salvaging plant or structures for commercial purposes. 

You must ensure high risk diving work is carried out in accordance with AS/NZS 2299.1:2015 Occupational diving operations – Standard operational practice. This includes ensuring the fitness and competence of those carrying out the work. 

Managing risks with diving work 

Diving work can be very dangerous. Injuries and deaths happen with faulty equipment, poor crew training or diver error. 

Other hazards with working in or under water include attacks by marine life, drowning, getting tangled and being struck by marine vessels. 

You have a duty to identify, assess and control hazards. Part of doing this in diving work is to: 

  • do a risk assessment and record it in writing 

  • appoint a qualified and experienced person to supervise diving work 

  • have a dive plan in place 

  • ensure the dive plan is accessible and everyone complies with it 

  • keep a dive safety log 

Dive plans 

A dive plan says how a dive will happen safely. It helps you implement risk control measures you choose. 

You can have a single dive plan for multiple dives if the risks are similar. 

A dive plan includes: 

  • the method of carrying out the diving work 

  • each involved person’s details, tasks and duties 

  • diving equipment, breathing gases and procedures 

  • dive times, bottom times and decompression profiles 

  • hazards, risks and control measures 

  • emergency procedures. 

Dive safety logs 

A dive safety log is a record of each dive in general diving work. 

You must make sure it is kept up to date. 

The diver or the supervisor can fill out the log as soon as possible after each dive. 

Record keeping 

The model WHS Regulations says you must keep the following records for the following amounts of time: 

  • certificate of medical fitness – for one year after the diving work finishes 

  • evidence of competencies – for one year after the diving work finishes 

  • risk assessment – for 28 days after work finishes or for 2 years if a notifiable incident occurs  

  • dive plan– until the diving work is completed or for 2 years if a notifiable incident occurs 

  • dive safety log – for one year after the last entry. 

Your WHS regulator may ask for these records. 

Supporting information