Medical Fitness

Find doctors who can perform medical examination for divers

South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society (SPUMS)

International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) – Medical Examination of Divers, Asia-Pacific Initiative

Are You Medically Fit?

The ADAS medical fitness questionnaire may help you prepare for a diving medical.

Occupational diving can be a very demanding career. It requires a high degree of physical and psychological fitness that means you will need to be very fit initially and will need to keep yourself in top condition.

For people wishing to undertake ADAS training, you must pass an initial occupational dive medical examination in compliance with the requirements of AS/NZS 2299.1:2007.  The examination is to be carried out by doctor specifically trained in underwater medicine to ensure you are medically fit to dive.

The doctor also needs to make you aware of any underlying health problems, which could affect your fitness in the future.

If you pass the medical you will be issued with a certificate of medical fitness to dive, which is valid for up to 12 months (with the exception of entry into an ADAS Part 1 course where the medical certificate must be issued three months prior to the beginning of the course).

The medical certificate must be renewed annually and will include a fitness test.

The cost of the examination may vary depending on any further tests the medico may have to carry out. The medico may state restrictions about the types of diving work you can do, for example, the depth to which you can dive.

If you are an existing occupational diver, you are required to pass an occupational dive medical annually in accordance with AS/NZS2299.1:2007.

 Effects of Diving on Health

The hazards of a diving career include a number of specific acute and chronic medical conditions, such as decompression illness (‘the bends’) and bone necrosis. Compliance with accepted diving procedures reduces these to a very small risk.

Notes to General Practitioner

Occupational diving is generally subject to the Australian/New Zealand Standard 2299.1:2007 which requires divers to undertake annual medicals according to the medical guidelines. Before beginning training, all diving trainees must be examined by a doctor specifically trained in underwater medicine (Occupational Diving Doctor – see appendix K AS/NZS 2299.1:2007). If passed fit, the diving doctor will issue a certificate of medical fitness to dive.

Prospective divers may wish to consult a GP to identify from their records whether they have any health problems that would cause them to fail the diving doctor’s examination. The GP consultation is optional but could save the diver from incurring unnecessary expense in undertaking a full medical examination.

The diver needs to complete a medical fitness questionnaire and discuss it with the diving doctor. Certain medical conditions, such as those listed below, can exclude individuals from a career in diving. Some health problems such as mild asthma or certain Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) conditions are relative contraindications and will require further assessment.

Diving doctors need to sign the medical fitness questionnaire to indicate they have discussed it with the diver and to confirm the accuracy of the responses.

General considerations

Pregnancy

A diver who is pregnant or suspects she may be pregnant should not dive to avoid possible harmful effects that exposure to increased pressure may have on a foetus.

Age

AS/NZS 2299.1:2007 requires divers to be at least 18 years of age.There is no upper age limit for divers providing the diver has sufficient health and fitness.

Any of the following medical conditions would be a bar to a career in diving:

Cardiovascular system

  • ischaemic heart disease
  • any dysrhythmia that might cause incapacity in water
  • any cardiomyopathy
  • atrial or ventricular septal defects
  • aortic or mitral valve stenosis
  • coarctation
  • varicose veins with circulatory impairment (eg varicose eczema)

Respiratory system

  • previous spontaneous pneumothorax
  • significant chest injury, particularly penetrating injury resulting in pleural adhesions or pulmonary scarring
  • the presence of bullous lung disease
  • severe asthma requiring oral steroids or hospital admission
  • chronic obstructive airways disease

Gastrointestinal system

  • severe inflammatory bowel disease with systemic effects
  • gall bladder pathology
  • pancreatitis

Psychiatric illness

  • claustrophobia
  • schizophrenia
  • unipolar/bipolar affective disorders
  • current drug or alcohol dependency

Central nervous system

  • epilepsy (unless the individual has been fit free for 10 years without treatment)
  • severe motion sickness
  • migraine with visual, motor or sensory disturbance
  • history of cerebrovascular accident
  • history of demyelination (eg multiple sclerosis) or neurodegenerative disorder (eg Parkinson’s disease)
  • any unprovoked loss of consciousness, recurring fainting episodes other than febrile convulsions occurring up to the age of 5 years
  • previous intracranial surgery
  • head injury where there has been any of the following:
  • depressed skull fracture
  • intracranial haematoma
  • unconsciousness or post traumatic amnesia of greater than 30 minutes
  • focal neurological signs

Skin

  • severe exfoliative disorders

Haematology

  • chronic anaemia
  • sickle cell disease (carriers of trait need not be excluded)
  • thalassaemias (carriers of traits need not be excluded)