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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

9. Medical

9.5 Fitness on the day of diving


Although a diver may be certified as fit to dive for a period of up to twelve months, there are a number of conditions that may render a person temporarily unfit for work on a given day or for a specific period.


9.5.1        Responsibilities of the diver


No diver shall dive if he feels that he is unfit to dive for any reason.


Divers who consider themselves unfit for any reason, e.g. fatigue, minor injury, recent medical treatment, etc., will need to inform their supervisor. Even a minor illness, such as the common cold or a dental problem, can have serious effects on a diver under pressure, and should be reported to the supervisor before the start of a dive. Supervisors should seek guidance from the diving contractor's designated medical practitioner, if there is doubt about a diver's fitness.


Divers who have suffered an incident of decompression illness will need to record details of the treatment they received in their log books. They will need to show this to the supervisor responsible for the first dive after the treatment in order that are assessment can be made of their fitness to return to diving.


9.5.2        Responsibilities of the supervisor


A diver shall not dive when, at the discretion of the diving supervisor or diver, the diver is judged incapable of functioning safely and effectively under water. The supervisor may require the diver to consult with the level 2 DMP if there is any uncertainty regarding the person's fitness to dive. The supervisor shall specifically enquire about the fitness of each person to dive and this shall be recorded in the diving log.


Due regard shall be given to the restrictions noted on the diver's fitness on the medical certificate.


9.5.3 Fitness after illness or injury


If, on account of an illness or injury (whether diving-related or not), a person has been medically unfit to take part in a diving project for a period of fourteen days or more, the person shall not be allowed to dive again or participate in the diving project in any way unless he or she furnishes the diving contractor with a medical certificate indicating the nature of his or her illness or injury and in which a medical practitioner certifies that he or she has recovered from such illness or injury.


Whenever the diving contractor feels that the illness or injury of the person is of such a nature as to make an examination by a designated medical practitioner desirable, such person shall not participate in diving work until a designated medical practitioner has certified that the person is again fit for diving work.


9.5.4        Fitness after decompression illness


Divers who have suffered decompression illness, including cases where the diving supervisor or the diver himself suspects that the diver has suffered decompression illness, shall not be allowed to dive again without consultation with the Level 2 Designated Medical Practitioner. If the Designated Medical Practitioner confirms a diagnosis of decompression illness, this will be reported as an occupational disease and noted in the diver's logbook. The diver may only be allowed to dive again after being passed as fit to dive by the Level 2 Designated Medical Practitioner. The following minimum times before re-assessment by the Designated Medical Practitioner are recommended:        Simple decompression illness


Divers suffering decompression illness that manifest as: limb pain only (with no motor system involvement); cutaneous (skin rash with itching, but excluding marbling of the skin); lymphatic or non-specific (persistent headache, excessive fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, etc.):

If the diver fully responds to a single recompression treatment, the diver may be permitted to return to diving in 24 hours. (Telephonic consultation with the designated medical practitioner may be adequate in some cases).
If the diver does not fully respond, or if a relapse in symptoms occur, or if further recompression therapy is required, the diver may be assessed in 7 days' time.        Sensory neurological decompression illness


Neurological decompression illness involving sensation in the limbs only (excluding any spinal involvement) and with definite exclusion of motor involvement:

The diver may be assessed after 7 days following maximum recovery. Cardiorespiratory decompression illness


Decompression illness manifesting with cardio-respiratory symptoms (commonly known as the "chokes") or with pulmonary barotrauma:

The diver may be assessed after 28 days following maximum recovery.        Serious neurological decompression illness


Decompression illness manifesting with serious neurological signs (motor involvement, inner ear involvement, etc):

The diver may be assessed after 28 days following maximum recovery. Specialist consultation is advised.


9.5.5        Victimization


No person reporting himself as unfit for work shall be forced to work and such a person shall not be victimized in any way. A consultation with the level 2 DMP may be required and this may in certain instances occur telephonically.


No person may victimise a diving supervisor who considers a diver unfit for diving due to indisposition, physical illness or mental infirmity and such a diver shall not be allowed to participate in the diving project without being cleared by the level 2 DMP.