OSHA Issues New Commercial Diving Directive to Reduce Diver Dangers

The commercial diving industry has unique workplace dangers that put divers at risk for serious injuries, severe sicknesses and sometimes death. As a result, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published a revised directive for reducing the safety hazards, as well as harm to divers, which are inherently a part of commercial diving operations. The new OSHA instructions aim to use direct intervention and help with compliance as two methods to further improve and ensure the safety of commercial divers.

Dangers to Commercial Divers

Commercial divers are exposed to both typical and special workplace hazards from working underwater for long periods of time. According to OSHA, commercial divers are vulnerable to construction or demolition threats from using power tools or heavy equipment to perform cutting, welding, material handling and cleaning tasks underwater. The stress of working underwater, as well as the possibility of drowning, developing respiratory or circulatory problems and hypothermia, led to the need for closely regulating commercial diver dangers.

Commercial Diving Standards

OSHA addresses commercial diving hazards by industry, such as general industry, shipyard employment, marine terminals, longshoring and construction work, in its federal commercial diving operating standards that were originally issued in 1977. In 1985, OSHA exempted certain commercial diving operations that qualify, under specific conditions, as scientific. OSHA also revised the standards in 2004 so that recreational diving guides and instructors could follow decompression chamber requirements that better fit their scale of operations.

OSHA' s New Directive

The new directive replaces OSHA's 2006 version of its commercial diving standards. The main changes for commercial diving companies involve complying more fully with OSHA officials when interventions are needed to lessen diver vulnerability to dangers and reviewing revised diver assistant requirements. Other updates include adding answers to common questions about commercial diving, as well as current OSHA inspection procedures, requirements for maintaining equipment and recordkeeping rules, to the diving standards.

Ensuring Diver Safety

The ultimate goal of OSHA's new directive is to ensure that commercial divers are safe during the performance of their often dangerous job duties. Issuing new instructions shows that OSHA has identified processes and procedures in the commercial diving industry that need improvement so that commercial divers are exposed to fewer hazards within their workplace environments. When companies do not follow these standards, however, and workers become injured, fall ill or die, the employer must be held accountable.

If you or your loved one is a commercial diver who was recently injured or killed during the course of performing typical work duties, contact a workers' compensation attorney in your area today. Experiences workers' compensation lawyers can work to get you the appropriate compensation for medical expenses and lost wages due to an accident.