ABSTRACT

The UK offshore Operators Association (UKOOA) and the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) have recommended that their UK based members should monitor offshore air diving with diver mounted pressure transducers. This will provide a continuous read-out for the dive supervisor of depth against time. The signal can be stored and logged centrally.

There are a number of reasons for bringing this system into operation, including

  • To reduce the workload of the dive supervisor by providing him with a real-time readout of his divers' depths, together with bottom time and profile, etc.

  • To allow collation of accurate data from offshore air dives on the UKCS, providing contractors, clients and regulators with reliable statistics

  • To provide a database on air diving that can be used by researchers into diving safety

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has supported the establishment, and operation for a limited period, the central database.

From 1st January 1995 the intention is that offshore air dives in the UK sector of the North Sea will be undertaken using suitable depth-time logging equipment, referred to as Dive Data Recording Systems (DDRS). These data will be passed to the National Hyperbaric Centre (NHC). The NHC hold the contract to build, maintain and operate the central database, known as the Dive Data Management System (DDMS), for the first two years of use. As builder and operator of the DDMS the NHC is in a position to present the current situation and future possibilities of this operation.

Background

This individual with perhaps the most onerous workload during offshore diving operations is the Air Diving Supervisor. He not only has to look after his divers while they carry out their work task, but also has to consider their decompression requirements, the ongoing decompression of the previous diving team, the preparation and readiness of the next diving team, and the repetitive dive status of each of his dive team members.

For several years technology has existed which can automatically monitor and log a divers depth and bottom time-two of the most critical parameters regarding his dive. A pressure transducer attached to the diver feeds a signal, via his umbilical, to a computer at the surface, can provide a real-time readout of depth and time. In this way the Supervisor is given a continuous indication of his divers' situation. He no longer needs to manually obtain a depth reading- a procedure prone to errors, not least because it is discontinuous and manual, and is only accurate if the diver does not change depth between readings, and providing that the reading is noted down correctly.

A Steering Committee, composed of representatives of IMCA (the International Marine Contractors Association), HSE (the UK Health and Safety Executive) and UKOOA (the UK Offshore Operators Association) prepared a minimum specification for the establishment of Dive Data Recording Systems (DDRS), with the objectives of improved safety and more reliable data on which to based decision, both for specific dives and in judging overall safety.

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