The Magazine for Underwater Professionals

Mar/Apr 2015


Association of Diving Contractors

So far, a quieter start to the year than expected

As spring is upon us and the first signs of the very active summer season loom, so far 2015 has proved to be much quieter than expected, certainly in terms of comments received about the content of the revised ACoP.


All in all, the two principal comments received by the Secretary have focused on the less ambiguous wording in respect to minimum team size numbers, and of the course the elimination of the two-hour requirement for chamber availability.



The team size matter is an obvious flag for some as they tend to try and decide the numbers based on either their choice of equipment, the availability of personnel or purely on economic considerations – rather than the requirements of the task and the needs that might arise, should something out of the normal routine be required. Certainly, from the perspective of ADC members it would appear that the justification behind a minimum of five for a surface supplied diving operation seems to be well understood.


The chamber requirement is possibly less clearly understood at the moment as the final decision on availability can only be made once a proper risk assessment has been compiled, and that will vary greatly from one site location to another and very much depend on the scope of work, depth and site location. As contractors continue to interpret the requirements and the HSE no doubt intervenes by commenting on what is and is not acceptable, I feel confident that some additional clarification will be forthcoming in the months ahead to help those tasked with compiling these risk assessments. This is likely to take the form of a worked dive plan example for each of the three chamber requirement categories.


Following the recent DIC meeting, the final accident and incident statistics have now been issued by HSE and as always they make interesting reading. Thankfully, there were no diving fatalities in the year to 4 April 2014. Sadly however, there are already two fatalities recorded in the period from 5 April 2014, both reported under the Recreational ACoP.



In the other groups there were two reported over seven days injuries inland/inshore, one slip and trip occurrence and one DCI, listed in this group as it is no longer a reportable event under RIDDOR. In the ill health category, three applied to inland/inshore, another suspected DCI, one aural barotrauma and a possibly PFO. Four dangerous occurrences were reported in the period, including a folded mushroom valve and oxygen fire in a regulator supplying a DDC and a burst suit inflation. One occurrence in particular had the potential to be extremely serious, with an umbilical being sucked into an intake, a differential pressure incident by any definition; invariably theses are extremely hazardous to working divers, so this was a close call.


Sadly, as always, inland/inshore figures highly in the complaints section. Of the 32 reported, 24 related to inland/inshore activity and included the usual little nuggets: no standby diver; standby diver not dressed in; the use of unqualified divers in the team; unsafe diving practice; no comms; contractor not notified to HSE; a supervisor pressurised to conduct diving operations in adverse weather; no achievable emergency action plan; inadequate or poorly maintained equipment; and attempting an inappropriate diving operation.


These are generally the same range of complaints that figure in the statistics time after time – you would have thought that by now, with all of the problems that can befall those who fail to comply with the regulations and ACoP, including the costs that result from Fee For Intervention, contractors would have worked out that it’s probably cheaper in the long run to get it right from the start.


Roger O'Kane






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