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What is Occupational Diving?

Diving in the course of employment (irrespective of whether or not diving is the principal function of employment or merely an adjunct to it) and comprising all diving work carried out as part of a business; as a service; for research; or for profit.

Occupational diving could be considered any of the following:

  • Diving at work
  • Work diving
  • Commercial diving
  • Civils diving
  • Professional diving
  • Construction diving
  • Oilfield diving
  • Salvage diving
  • Industrial diving

So, the take home message here is occupational diving occurs whenever underwater work is being undertaken for profit or reward. This immediately makes the diving subject to the provisions of occupational health and safety legislation to activities such as scientific diving, golf ball retrieval, moving or maintaining moorings as well as to underwater construction, maintaining oil and gas platforms, tending tuna in a sea cage etc.

The important thing to note is that divers are not employed to dive, as such, but to carry out some specified work tasks whilst underwater. With the exception of the recreational sector, diving is primarily a method of getting to a work site that happens to be underwater. The work task may range from civil engineering to archaeology. Diving is only the means of getting the worker to and from a work site and carrying out their tasks.

Potential working divers should ideally already possess the technical skills that are relevant to the job. For example, construction workers may require welding, non-destructive testing or rigging qualifications, while divers involved in an archaeology project may require a degree in archaeology.

You need to have both the diving skills and work skills that employers want – the more skills that you possess, or develop, the more sought-after you will be, the better paid you will be and the better the work you will be offered.

Approved Qualifications

Under most Australian diving legislation and AS/NZS 2299.1:2015, occupational divers are required to be trained in accordance with the provisions of the Standard and to have an ADAS certificate, other occupational diver training, or qualifications issued by the relevant regulatory authority. The Career Opportunities page of this website will help you to determine which qualification is appropriate for the diving work you are considering.

Commercial Diving Competencies

AS/NZS 2299.1:2015 requires that occupational construction divers be trained and qualified in accordance with the appropriate Part of the Australian Standard 2815 Parts 1 – 4 Training and certification of occupational divers. The various parts relate to Occupational SCUBA to 30m (Part 1), SSBA to 30m (Part 2), SSBA to 50m (Part 3), and Closed Bell (Part 4).

  • SCUBA stands for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (where the air supply is in cylinders worn by the diver).
  • SSBA stands for Surface Supplied Breathing Apparatus. Surface supplied divers receive their air supply via an umbilical (hose) from the surface and work with hydraulic and pneumatic tools .
  • To dive offshore (and for deep on-shore air work), divers require training and qualification to ADAS Part 3.
  • Closed bell divers use mixed gas in order to dive deeper than 50 metres. They can spend up to 28 days working (and living) in a compression chamber complex transferring to the work site in a diving bell. To be eligible for a Closed Bell qualification a diver must have one year’s experience diving offshore using surface supplied diving equipment and techniques.
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