This paper reviews proposals by the Health and Safety Executive for changes to the General Certificates of Exemption Issued under the Delving Operations at Work Regulations 1981 and current attitudes to the use of Nitrox in inshore commercial diving


By the introduction of the Diving Operations at Work Regulations 1981 (DOWR), which covered all commercial diving operations, various groups of divers which had not previously been regulated under the Diving Operations Special Regulations 1960 came within the regulatory net In particular DOWR brought archaeologists, journalists, scientists and instructors of amateur divers within the scope of regulations For these groups probably the most onerous and controversial requirement in DOWR was the requirement for all divers "at work" to hold diver training certificates (Regulation 7(l)(a)) One of the main underwater archaeological projects of that time was the Mary Rose Project and archaeologists working on that project took the lead the In opposing the introduction of DOWR The main thrust of their objection concerned the difficulties presented by DOWR for them to include amateur divers In their work Because of financial constraints, underwater archaeology greatly depends on the activities of amateur divers to supplement the work of a few professional underwater archaeologists

The result of their objection was the granting by HSE of a Certificate of Exemption from DOWR for archaeological diving This was immediately followed by the Issue of Certificates of Exemption for journalism, diving for the purposes of scientific research and the "commercial" instruction of amateur divers The latter is a slightly different category of diving operation and is dealt with separately in the paper

The Certificates of Exemption for archaeologists, journalists and the instruction of amateurs dating from 1981 are still in force but the Certificate of Exemption for diving in connection with scientific research has been revised a number of times - most recently in 1988

When the original Certificates of Exemption were Issued HSE undertook to review them at an unspecified time In the future In the time since they were issued, a number of problems have arisen which the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) now consider collectively to be of sufficient importance to justify their review These problems Include the scope and definition of the diving operations covered by the Certificates of Exemption changes to particular regulations in DOWR from which exemption was granted - for example Regulation 5 which has been extended by recent amendments to DOWR, problems In enforcement and changes in diving technology

HSE also considered that dependence by employers on the use of recreational training and qualifications when dealing with an occupational hazard, such as is the case with diving scientists, could be considered not to be In keeping the spirit of Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act in the field of commercial instruction of amateurs, problems have arisen with the training of employees and with amateur divers being taught non-diving topics such as underwater photography

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.