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Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 (Act No. 85 of 1993)

Code of Practice

Diving Regulations, 2009

Code of Practice for Inshore Diving

8. Personnel

8.1 Training and competence - General

 

Only four classes of diver are permitted to work under the scope of this code, namely Class IV, Class III, Class and Class I. The minimum level of training of personnel committed to work under the scope of this code includes:

Successful completion of a Department of Labour approved training course, or
Previous training that is approved by the Depart of Labour

 

Any person taking part in a diving operation must have the necessary competence and training prior to engaging in diving work and be fully conversant with the machinery, tools and equipment used during the diving project.

 

No diver is allowed to dive to a depth greater than that for which he or she is qualified.

 

8.1.1        Competence

 

To work safely, efficiently and as a member of a team, personnel need to have a basic level of competence for the task they are being asked to carry out.  Competence may not be the same as qualification. A person who has a particular qualification, such as a diver training certificate, should have a certain level of competence in that area but the diving contractor and the diving supervisor will need to satisfy themselves that the person has the necessary competence to perform the specific task required during the particular diving operation. This will normally mean establishing that the person has had sufficient training coupled with experience. The various members of the diving team will require different levels and types of competence.

 

Competence in diving skills is implied by the diver certification level held.

 

Competence in work skills may to some extent be implied by diver certification, but there are many specialised work skills which are not implied by diver certification. These must either be provided by additional training and certification, or on the job.

 

The diver is responsible for informing the supervisor of his or her actual experience, supporting this with evidence of logbook and certification.

 

8.1.1.1 Diving supervisors (see also 3.4 for organisational responsibilities of the supervisor)

 

There is only one person who can appoint a supervisor for a diving operation and that is the Diving contractor. The supervisor should be appointed in writing.

 

The diving contractor shall ensure that the diving supervisor is competent to fulfil the duties and responsibilities of the supervisor as contemplated in Section 3.

 

The Diving contractor should consider a number of factors when appointing a supervisor. Regarding qualifications, it is relatively simple to establish if a person is suitably qualified to act as a Supervisor and any person being considered for appointment as a supervisor will need to be in possession of the relevant certificate.

 

If a diving operation is being planned, which does not fall clearly in to the areas normally undertaken by that Diving contractor, then detailed consideration will need to be given to the most suitable qualification for the supervisors to be selected.

 

Clearly the issue of competence is more subjective and the diving contractor needs to consider the operations being planned and the competence of any individual being considered for appointment as a supervisor.

 

The possession of the necessary qualification does not in itself demonstrate competence for any specific operation. The Diving contractor will need to consider the details of the planned operation, such as the complexity of the part of the operation the person is going to supervise, the equipment and facilities which will be available to the supervisor, the risks which the supervisor and divers may be exposed to and the support which would be available to the supervisor in an emergency. After such consideration, a decision will need to be made whether one supervisor can be responsible for all that is intended or whether more supervision is required.

 

Relevant previous experience supervising similar operations will demonstrate a suitable level of competence however if this has been gained with a different diving contractor then checks should be made to establish the veracity of the claimed experience. For this purpose the log book maintained by the supervisor can be consulted and if necessary, the details checked with previous diving contractors.

 

If relevant previous supervisory experience of similar operations cannot be demonstrated due to unique features of the planned operation, or to the limited previous experience of the individual being considered, then the diving contractor should assess the relevant information available, consider the possible risks involved and make a decision as to the competence of the individual concerned.

 

It is possible that in the future, particularly on very large operations, a diving contractor may wish to appoint individuals as supervisors for parts of the operation, which do not fall neatly in to the categories identified above. In such a case the diving contractor will need to consider the most suitable qualifications available and in particular establish the competence of the individual for that position.

 

8.1.1.2 Diver (see also 3.5 for organizational responsibilities of the divers)

 

Before commencing diving, the diving supervisor shall ensure that the diver is competent to perform the task required. This could be done by scrutinizing the contents of the diver's logbook, or previous experience of working with the diver. If competency cannot be assured the diver should be accompanied by another diver that is competent and who can act as the lead diver for that dive.

 

Only holders of South African Class 1V, III, II and I qualifications and mutually recognised equivalents are allowed to work under this code. All divers at work should hold a diving qualification suitable for the work they intend to undertake. They will need to have the original certificate in their possession at the site of the diving project -copies should not be accepted.

 

Persons entering a chamber, under pressure, must possess a suitable qualification to do so; except for medical personnel entering a chamber during an emergency.

 

Competence is required of a diver in several different areas simultaneously:

The diver will need to be competent to use the diving techniques being . This includes breathing gas, personal equipment and deployment equipment.
They will need to be competent to work in the environmental conditions. This will include wave action, visibility and current effects.
They will need to be competent to use any tools or equipment they need during the course of the dive.
They will need to be competent to carry out the tasks required of them. This will normally require them to understand why they are doing certain things and how their actions may affect others, Even tasks which are apparently very simple, such as moving sandbags underwater, require a degree of competence, both to ensure that the pile of sandbags created is correct from an engineering viewpoint and also to ensure that the diver lifts and handles the bags in such a way that they do not injure themselves.

 

Care should be taken to ensure that a diver is not claiming or exaggerating experience in order to obtain work or appear knowledgeable to their superiors. If there is any doubt about the validity of experience then the individual should be questioned in detail to establish their exact level of knowledge.

 

It should be recognised that inexperienced divers are required ta gain competence in a work situation and it is correct to allow this provided it is recognised by the other members of the team that the individual is in the process gaining experience and competence. In such a case it would be expected that the other team members and particularly the supervisor, would pay particular attention to supporting the person gaining competence.

 

The Standby diver must be competent to perform a rescue in the reasonably foreseeable emergencies contemplated by the dive plan and associated HIRA, contingency and emergency plans for the diving operation.

 

8.1.1.3        Tender

 

Tenders are there to help the divers. They should therefore be competent to provide the level of assistance that the diver expects and needs.

 

Competence is required of tenders in that:

They should understand the diving techniques being used. Including a detailed knowledge the emergency and contingency plans.
They will need to be familiar with the divers personal equipment.
They should understand the method of deployment being used and all of the actions expected of them in an emergency.
They should understand the ways in which their actions can affect the diver.

 

8.1.1.4        Chamber operators

 

Chambers must only be operated by persons who are qualified and competent to do so.

 

Persons who are qualified as class II or class I divers are qualified to operate chambers. Other persons must hold a chamber operator's certificate as specified in the Regulations.

 

8.1.1.5        Chamber attendants

 

Whenever persons enter a diving chamber there will be at least one person, who may be the only diver in the chamber, who must know how to operate valves on the inside, as well as be intimately familiar with the emergency procedures.

 

If only one person is inside the chamber, there will be another standby diver available to enter the chamber in case of an emergency,

 

8.1.1.6        Surface crew/riggers

 

Divers rely heavily on the support given to them from the surface by the surface crew. The actions of the people on the surface can have a major impact on the safety and efficiency of the work being carried out under water.

 

The surface crew will need to have competence in a number of areas:

They will need to understand and be familiar with good rigging practice.This will include relevant knots, slinging, correct use of shackles etc.
They will need to be familiar with safe working loads and safety factors.
They should understand the task that the diver is being asked to carry out under water
They should understand the limitations of a diver in relation to the work they can carry out. For example they will need to understand that a diver cannot normally lift an item underwater which it took two men to carry on the surface.
They should understand the various ways in which equipment can be prepared on the surface to ease the task of the diver underwater.

 

Often the surface crew will be made up in large part of experienced divers who are not actually diving. In such a case competence can be established quickly. In most cases it will be necessary for the diving supervisor, or someone acting on his behalf, to give at least a short explanation to the surface crew prior to each job, such that competence is assured.

 

With a larger surface crew it will not be necessary for all members of the crew to have the same level of competence, provided they are closely overseen by a competent and experienced person.