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Guidelines Part 24 Contents

DIVING OPERATIONS

GENERAL REQUIREMENTS

G24.9 Diving operations – Notice of project
G24.10 Medical certification
G24.10/24.11 Medical certification and fitness of recreational diving instructors
G24.12 Training
G24.13 Principal performers using underwater diving equipment
G24.13-1 Evidence of competency for scientific divers
G24.13-2 Diving competency standards
G24.18 Diving supervisor qualifications
G24.21 Diving tables
G24.25 Acceptable standards for hyperbaric chambers
G24.26 Breathing mediums
G24.29 Gauges and meters

SCUBA DIVING

G24.36 Minimum dive crew
G24.37 Restrictions on scuba

SURFACE SUPPLY DIVING

G24.40 Minimum dive crew
G24.43 Surface supply diving – Compressors
G24.66(3) Minimum dive crew

FISHING OPERATIONS

GENERAL REQUIREMENTS

G24.69 Fishing operations – Determining who is the employer
G24.70 Compliance with Standards
G24.71 Owner and master responsibilities – Major modifications
G24.72 Documentation
G24.76 Vessel preparation
G24.97(1) Acceptable standards for immersion suits

Guidelines Part 24 - Diving operations: General requirements

G24.9 Diving operations – Notice of project

Issued September 1999; Editorial Revision February 25, 2013

Regulatory excerpt
Section 24.9(1) of the OHS Regulation ("Regulation") states:

(1) The employer must submit a notice of project for diving activity, or notify the Board by telephone, at least 24 hours before commencing a diving operation which involves

(a) construction diving,

(b) engineering inspection diving,

(c) diving in a contaminated environment,

(d) diving under ice, under or between nets, or into other areas of potential entrapment,

(e) exceeding the no-decompression limit, or

(f) the use of mixed gas other than nitrox as a breathing medium.

Section 24.9(3) of the Regulation states:

(3) Before diving commences, a copy of the notice of project must be posted at the worksite, or if notification is provided by telephone, a written summary of that notification that contains the information required by subsection (2) must be posted at the worksite.

Purpose of guideline
This guideline explains the requirements for posting information when a notice of project (NOP) has been submitted by telephone.

Notice over telephone
Section 24.9(3) of the Regulation means that if notice is given over the telephone then the employer must legibly write down all the required information and post it at the worksite. If posting is not practicable, the notice must be available at the workplace and its location made known to the workers at the worksite.

Submitting an NOP
NOP may be submitted online at WorkSafeBC Submit a Notice of Project form. WorkSafeBC also provides a standard form that can be used for sending written notice to WorkSafeBC or recording telephone notices. This form defines the detailed information that must be given, whether notice is given by telephone or in writing. The forms can be ordered from WorkSafeBCStore.com.

G24.10 Medical certification

Issued September 1999; Editorial Revision October 2004; Editorial Revision February 25, 2013

Regulatory excerpt
Section 24.10 of the OHS Regulation ("Regulation") states:

(1) The employer must ensure that each diver has current medical certification, from a physician knowledgeable and competent in diving medicine, before commencing diving operations.

(2) A diver's medical certification must be

(a) established prior to entry into any commercial diving activity,

(b) renewed every 2 years up to age 39 and annually from age 40 onwards,

(c) renewed more frequently than required by paragraph (b) if clinically indicated, and

(d) re-evaluated by a physician knowledgeable and competent in diving medicine if the diver is subjected to an event or has a physical condition which may affect the diver's medical status.

(3) A copy of each diver's medical certification must be kept at the dive site.

Purpose of guideline
This guideline provides information on physicians recognized as knowledgeable and competent in diving medicine.

Dive Physicians
WorkSafeBC keeps a list of physicians that it recognizes as being "knowledgeable and competent in diving medicine." This list is available online at WorkSafeBC Dive Physicians.

Section 24.10 is violated if a person works as a diver or a standby diver without being certified by a physician knowledgeable and competent in diving medicine.

A request to have a physician added to the list should be sent to Certification Services (telephone 1-888-621-7233 extension 3090).

G24.10/24.11 Medical certification and fitness of recreational diving instructors

Issued June 26, 2014

Regulatory excerpt

Section 24.10(1) of the OHS Regulation ("Regulation") states:

(1) The employer must ensure that each diver has current medical certification, from a physician knowledgeable and competent in diving medicine, before commencing diving operations.

Section 24.11 of the Regulation states:

(1) A diver must not dive if, in the opinion of the diving supervisor, the diver is incapable of functioning safely underwater.

(2) A diver must be medically re-examined, as required by the diving supervisor, to ensure that the diver is fit to dive.

(3) Divers, standby divers, and divers' tenders must not participate in any diving operation if they are physically or emotionally fatigued or if they have consumed drugs or alcohol which would impair their ability to work safely.

Purpose of guideline
This guideline explains why Part 24 of the Regulation does not apply to recreational diving instruction, and refers to relevant information in another guideline.

Part 24 does not apply but other requirements do apply
Part 24 of the Regulation contains requirements for diving operations (sections 24.7 to 24.68). According to section 24.7, the diving operations regulations "apply to all persons involved in any occupational diving operation." Recreational diving operations are not considered occupational diving operations. As a result, recreational diving instructors are not required to comply with the regulatory requirements relating to diving operations.

As section 24.10 is part of the diving operations regulations, employers of recreational diving instructors are not required to meet this requirement, and recreational diving instructors are not required to comply with the requirement to undergo medical certification. Similarly, the restrictions and obligations in section 24.11 regarding diving fitness, do not apply to recreational diving instructors or their employers.

Although not covered by sections 24.10 and 24.11, general regulatory requirements relating to the fitness of workers apply to recreational diving instructors and their employers. Section 4.19 of the Regulation contains requirements around physical or mental impairment. Guideline G4.19 Physical or mental impairment – recreational diving instructors provides guidance for recreational diving instructors and employers regarding fitness for work.

G24.12 Training

Issued September 1999; Editorial Revision October 2004; Editorial Revision November 23, 2005; Preliminary Revision December 16, 2016

Regulatory excerpt
Section 24.12 of the OHS Regulation ("Regulation") states:

(1) A diver must not dive unless the diver has been thoroughly trained in the theory and use of the diving apparatus that the diver will be using.

(2) The training required by subsection (1) must be provided by a person or agency acceptable to the Board.

(3) All divers, diving supervisors and divers' tenders must be trained in CPR, oxygen (O2) therapy, and diving accident management.

Section 24.13 of the Regulation states:

(1) The employer and diving supervisor must ensure that all divers

(a) meet the minimum requirements of CSA Standard Z275.4-97 Competency Standard for Diving Operations, and

(b) are competent to use the diving equipment that will be used in the diving operation.

(2) A certified copy of competency documents for each diver must be available for inspection on site by an officer.

Purpose of guideline
Section 24.12(2) of the Regulation requires that divers be trained by a person or agency acceptable to WorkSafeBC and as required by section 24.13(1)(a), commercial (occupational) divers must be trained in accordance with the standards of CSA Standard Z275.4-97 Competency Standard for Diving Operations ("Standard").

This guideline provides a link to the training providers in B.C. that train to the Standard. The guideline also lists the accepted certificates that meet the requirement of section 24.13(2) of the Regulation.

Accepted training providers
Information on accepted training providers can be found at WorkSafeBC Diving Training Providers.

Competency documents
Certificates that meet the requirement under section 24.13(2) for Occupation Diving include the following:

  • A current certificate issued by the Diver Certification Board of Canada (DCBC). This certificate must be renewed by or on expiry date
  • WorkSafeBC diving certificates (refer to Note below)
    • restricted or unrestricted Scuba Certificate
    • restricted or unrestricted Surface Supply Certificate
    • Seafood Harvesting Certificate
  • A National Energy Board of Canada ("NEBC") Certificate (refer to Note below)
    Note: The WorkSafeBC and NEBC certificates are no longer being issued; however, if a diver holds one of these certificates and it does not have an expiry date, it is currently considered valid for the purpose of meeting section 24.13(2) of the Regulation. If a diver holding one of these certificates has not been actively diving in the last five years and intends to return to occupational diving in the future, it is recommended that he/she update his/her training through an accepted training provider.

Other certificates or documented training may be acceptable. Contact WorkSafeBC Certification Services (Diving) at (604) 276-3090 for review and comparison to CSA Standard Z275.4.

G24.13 Principal performers using underwater diving equipment

Issued April 27, 2000; Editorial Revision April 2005; Preliminary Revision December 16, 2016

Regulatory excerpt
Section 24.10 of the OHS Regulation ("Regulation") states:

(1) The employer must ensure that each diver has current medical certification, from a physician knowledgeable and competent in diving medicine, before commencing diving operations.

(2) A diver's medical certification must be

(a) established prior to entry into any commercial diving activity,

(b) renewed every 2 years up to age 39 and annually from age 40 onwards,

(c) renewed more frequently than required by paragraph (b) if clinically indicated, and

(d) re-evaluated by a physician knowledgeable and competent in diving medicine if the diver is subjected to an event or has a physical condition which may affect the diver's medical status.

(3) A copy of each diver's medical certification must be kept at the dive site.

Section 24.12 of the Regulation states:

(1) A diver must not dive unless the diver has been thoroughly trained in the theory and use of the diving apparatus that the diver will be using.

(2) The training required by subsection (1) must be provided by a person or agency acceptable to the Board.

(3) All divers, diving supervisors and divers' tenders must be trained in CPR, oxygen (O2) therapy, and diving accident management.

Section 24.13 of the Regulation states, in part:

(1) The employer and diving supervisor must ensure that all divers

(a) meet the minimum requirements of CSA Standard Z275.4-97 Competency Standard for Diving Operations

Section 4.4 of the Regulation states in part:

(2) When this Regulation requires a person to comply with

(a) a publication, code or standard of the Board or another agency, the person may, as an alternative, comply with another publication, code or standard acceptable to the Board

Purpose of guideline
Section 24.13(1)(a) of the Regulation requires that all divers in an occupational diving operation meet the requirements of CSA Standard 275.4-97 Competency Standard for Diving Operations. Each diver is also required to be competent to use the equipment that he or she will be using during the diving operation. The purpose of this guideline is to outline the conditions under which principal performers (actors and stunt performers) may perform underwater holding only a sport diving (open water) certification.

A principal performer for the purposes of this interpretation refers to actors and stunt performers contracted for artistic purposes. Occasionally an underwater scene will require principal performers to go underwater using a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) or surface supply equipment to achieve the required film sequence.

Under certain situations, a principal performer going underwater for selected shots in shallow depths may be considered not to be a diver under the Regulation. Each principal performer is, however, considered to be a worker and is subject to the requirements of other sections of the Workers Compensation Act and the Regulation, including section 2.2 of the Regulation, which states "all work must be carried out without undue risk of injury or occupational disease."

Section 4.4(2)(a) permits the reliance on other standards which are acceptable to WorkSafeBC. WorkSafeBC will accept that a principal performer is not a diver required to meet the requirements of sections 24.10, 24.12, and 24.13 of the Regulation and that there is compliance with section 2.2 where the following conditions are met:

  1. An occupational diver who meets the requirements of CSA Standard 275.4-97 Competency Standard for Diving Operations assesses the ability of the principal performer to perform the required underwater shots, and considers the performer is competent to perform such underwater shots.
  2. A dedicated occupational diver who meets the requirements of CSA Standard 275.4-97 accompanies each principal performer at all times while the principal performer is underwater.
  3. All performers involved in diving will be required to have a medical exam by a physician for sport diving. One of the Recreational Scuba Training Council forms such as PADI’s Product No. 10063 (Rev. 06/15) Version 2.01 must be used. Medical exams are required every two years up to age 39 and annually from age 40 onwards. This signed form must be on site. No self-declared medical will be accepted.
  4. All breathing mediums must meet the requirements of CSA 7275.2 Occupational Safety Code for Diving.
  5. All sport diving (open water) certification for principal performers must be on site.
  6. All dive logs for principal performers must be on site.
  7. All support apparatus, accessories, and applicable service records must be available to workers on the dive site.
  8. Only occupational dive tables are to be used.
  9. A principal performer with only a valid recreational diver's (open water) certificate must not exceed 15 feet in depth.
  10. A principal performer without a valid recreational diver's (open water) certificate must take an introduction to diving session (for example, PADI "Discover Scuba"), must not exceed 7 feet in depth, and must be under direct supervision of an occupational diver who meets the requirements of CSA Standard 275.4-97.
  11. The water time for a principal performer who is not certified and qualified as an occupational diver to the full requirements of the Regulation is limited to the time required to perform the underwater shot.

No variance is needed where the above conditions are met. If in other situations a variance is needed, a request should be submitted to WorkSafeBC at least 30 working days prior to the scheduled shooting days.

G24.13-1 Evidence of competency for scientific divers

Issued November 29, 2002; Editorial Revision April 2005; Editorial Revision February 25, 2013

Regulatory excerpt
Section 24.13 of the OHS Regulation ("Regulation") states:

(1) The employer and diving supervisor must ensure that all divers

(a) meet the minimum requirements of CSA Standard Z275.4-97 Competency Standard for Diving Operations, and

(b) are competent to use the diving equipment that will be used in the diving operation.

(2) A certified copy of competency documents for each diver must be available for inspection on site by an officer.

Purpose of guideline
This guideline explains what scientific diving is and the requirements for training for divers engaged in scientific diving.

Scientific diving
Clause 1.6 of CSA Standard Z275.4-97 states:

This standard does not apply to scientific diving as defined in Clause 2.1.

Clause 2.1 of CSA Standard Z275.4-97 defines scientific diving as:

Diving performed to collect specimens or data for scientific use, under the auspices of an educational or research institute operating in accordance with the Canadian Association of Underwater Science Standard of Practice for Scientific Diving.

Note: Scientific diving does not include diving conducted for construction, including excavation, salvage, demolition, destruction, maintenance, repair, or inspection of underwater structures, nor collection of organisms for consumption or commercial use.

A diver engaged in scientific diving (as defined above) under the auspices of an educational or research institute does not need to meet the minimum requirements of CSA Standard Z275.4-97. However, in order to qualify for and maintain this exemption, the diver and the diving operation must operate in accordance with the Canadian Association of Underwater Science (CAUS) Standard of Practice for Scientific Diving ("CAUS Standard"). This means the educational or research institute must be a member organization in good standing with CAUS and have in place the organizational requirements specified in the CAUS Standard.

On the date of publication of this guideline, WorkSafeBC is aware of the following member organizations belonging to CAUS that may have scientific diving operations within WorkSafeBC's jurisdiction:

University of British Columbia
Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre
Bamfield Marine Station
University of Victoria
Simon Fraser University
Royal BC Museum

Required documents
A diver engaged in scientific diving under the auspices of an educational or research institute must be able to produce for inspection by a WorkSafeBC prevention officer documentation of competency and authorization to dive from the institute. Such authorization must indicate the scientific diver's category, or diving competency level, as specified in the CAUS Standard. The authorization may be in the form of a letter or certificate issued by the institute's diving officer or an entry by the diving officer in the diver's personal logbook. The diver may only undertake scientific diving activities that are within the scope of his or her current diving authorization as established by the institute.

An employer contracting with a member organization of CAUS to do scientific diving will only be considered to be working "under the auspices of an educational or research institute" if the employer's divers have authorization to dive from the institute and if the diving operation is undertaken in accordance with and under the control of the institute's scientific diving program. Otherwise, the divers working for such a contract employer must meet the minimum requirements of CSA Standard Z275.4-97 Competency Standard for Diving Operations or other standard acceptable to WorkSafeBC, and be so certified.

There are reciprocity agreements between CAUS member organizations, so a scientific diver from one institute can go to another institute as a visiting diver and his/her scientific diving credentials may be recognized and accepted by the host institute, with minimal "inconvenience." Similar reciprocity agreements exist between CAUS and other associations, such as the U.S. equivalent of CAUS, the American Academy of Underwater Sciences. The visiting diver must supply appropriate documentation (such as personal logbook, medical clearance, and proof of equipment maintenance) to the host institute's diving officer. The host institute's diving officer must provide specific authorization for the visitor to dive under the institute's program.

A scientific diving operation under the auspices of an educational or research institute may involve personnel who are not workers covered by the Workers Compensation Act ("Act"), such as students, volunteers, or visitors. If one or more of the personnel involved in a scientific diving operation is a worker under the Act, the Act and the Regulation apply. Section 24.13 of the Regulation applies to all divers involved in a scientific diving operation — i.e., all of the divers must meet the requirements of the CAUS Standard. All other requirements of the Act and the Regulation must also be met in the diving operation.

If there is any conflict between a requirement in the CAUS Standard and the Regulation, the requirement of the Regulation prevails.

Recreational certification
A recreational diver certification only, such as PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) or NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors), is not a sufficient certification to meet the criteria of any of the scientific diver categories in the CAUS Standard.

G24.13-2 Diver competency standards

Issued November 23, 2005; Revised June 6, 2006; Editorial Revision July 9, 2009

Regulatory excerpts
Section 24.13 of the OHS Regulation states:

(1) The employer and the diving supervisor must ensure that all divers

(a) meet the minimum requirements of CSA Standard Z275.4-97 Competency Standard for Diving Operations and

(b) are competent to use the diving equipment that will be used in the diving operation.

(2) A certified copy of competency documents for each diver must be available for inspection on site by an officer of the Board.

Section 4.4(2) of the OHS Regulation states:

(2) When this Regulation requires a person to comply with

(a) a publication, code or standard of the Board or another agency, the person may, as an alternative, comply with another publication, code or standard acceptable to the Board, or

(b) practices, procedures or rules of the Board or another agency, the person may, as an alternative, comply with another practice, procedure or rule acceptable to the Board.

Purpose of guideline
This guideline

  • identifies an alternative standard to the CSA Standard Z275.4-97, under section 24.13(1)(a) that is acceptable to WorkSafeBC
  • lists agencies that certify divers to a competency standard that is acceptable to WorkSafeBC and
  • discusses evidence of competency under section 24.13(2).

Background
Prior to the amendments to the OHS Regulation by B.C. Reg 312/2003, section 24.13(1)(a) also included the statement "or other standards acceptable to the Board." Since the regulatory amendments in 2003, the WorkSafeBC's authority to accept alternative standards falls under section 4.4(2) of the OHS Regulation.

Alternative competency standard for diving
CSA-Z275.4-02 Competency Standard for Diving Operations is a standard acceptable to WorkSafeBC that may be complied with as an alternative to CSA Standard Z275.4-97 Competency Standard for Diving Operations under section 24.13(1)(a).

Agencies that certify to a standard acceptable to WorkSafeBC
The following agencies certify divers to a standard acceptable to the WorkSafeBC under section 24.13(1)(a):

  1. WorkSafeBC. Divers who received a WCB Seafood Harvesting Diver's Certificate issued before January 1, 1998 are considered to be trained in the theory and use of the diving apparatus that the divers use in the fishing industry. These certificates are restricted to diving in the fishing industry for the sole purpose of harvesting seafood product. They are not acceptable for any other form of commercial diving or for workers who have not been employed as divers in the seafood harvesting industry on a continuous annual basis. Certificates showing an expiry date are not valid.
  2. Diver Certification Board of Canada (DCBC) or a school accredited by DCBC. A list of these accredited training schools and other information related to diver certification can be found at http://www.divercertification.com.
  3. National Energy Board (NEB) of Canada. See National Energy Board – Application for Diving Certification.

The Department of National Defense also certifies divers to a standard acceptable to WorkSafeBC provided that the divers have work experience and bottom time comparable to that required by CSA Standard Z275.4-97 Competency Standard for Diving Operations.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) of the United Kingdom does not certify to a standard acceptable to WorkSafeBC under 24.13(1)(a). Occupational divers holding HSE diver training certificates who want to dive in British Columbia must contact the Certification Services department of WorkSafeBC to have their diver qualifications evaluated.

For questions about whether a diver has been certified to a standard acceptable to WorkSafeBC, please contact WorkSafeBC's diving coordinator at (604) 276-3100.

Evidence of competency
Competency documents that are required under section 24.13(2) include a certified copy of a valid diving certificate from one of the agencies listed above or other person or training agency found to be acceptable to WorkSafeBC. Employers may certify a copy of competency documents by making copies personally or comparing the copies with the originals, and then signing or initialing the copies to show this has been done. Copies may also be certified by a legal professional for presentation to an officer.

G24.18 Diving supervisor qualifications

Issued March 11, 2009

Regulatory excerpt
Section 24.1 of the OHS Regulation ("Regulation") defines a "diving supervisor" as:

A person having complete and direct responsibility for the diving operation who is knowledgeable and competent with the diving equipment, the diving operations in progress, emergency diving procedures, diving physics and physiology and medical aspects of diving.

Section 24.18 of the Regulation (Diving supervisor's worksite duties) states:

(1) Each diving operation must be directed by a diving supervisor whose duties include

(a) evaluating the hazards,

(b) planning the dive,

(c) briefing the crew,

(d) ensuring that all needed equipment is available and in good working condition, and

(e) controlling the entire diving operation.

(f) Repealed. [B.C. Reg. 312/2003, effective October 29, 2003.]

(2) The diving supervisor must prepare a detailed plan of the diving operations which must be given to the worksite employer before diving commences.

(3) The diving supervisor must

(a) remain in the dive area during diving operations,

(b) delegate the supervisory responsibilities to another diving supervisor, if required to enter the water, and

(c) suspend diving operations if conditions become unsafe.

[Amended by B.C. Reg. 312/2003, effective October 29, 2003.]

Purpose of guideline
The purpose of this guideline is to clarify the minimum qualifications that diving supervisors will need to meet in order to be able to fulfill their responsibilities under Part 24 of the Regulation.

Duties of diving supervisors
Section 24.18 of the Regulation sets out the core duties of diving supervisors. These include: evaluating the hazards, planning the dive, briefing the crew about a prescribed list of matters, ensuring that all needed equipment is available and in good working condition, controlling the entire diving operation, preparing a detailed plan of the diving operations, remaining in the dive area, delegating supervisory responsibilities to another diving supervisor if required to enter the water, and suspending diving operations if conditions become unsafe. Additional responsibilities of diving supervisors are set out in the remainder of Part 24 of the Regulation. For example, diving supervisors are required to:

  • Be trained in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation ("CPR"), oxygen ("O2") therapy, and diving accident management (s. 24.12(3))
  • Ensure that all divers meet the minimum requirements of CSA Standard Z275.4-97 (note: section 3.3 of the standard requires all personnel to have up-to-date knowledge of, and be proficient in, CPR and basic first aid) (s. 24.13(1)(a))
  • Be able to specify the equipment that divers are required to use (under various sections in Part 24 of the Regulation)
  • Ensure that all divers are competent to use the diving equipment that will be used in the diving operation (s. 24.13(1)(b))
  • Keep and file a log of the diving operation, and verify and initial divers' personal logs (s. 24.14(2), (4), and (5))
  • Be satisfied that each diver understands the signals and procedures in use (s. 24.20(1))
  • Ensure that, if mixed gases in other than the normal proportions of respirable air are used for breathing by divers, the diving procedures, and schedules of work and decompression are in accordance with the recommendations of a competent authority, and prior written authorization has been received from WorkSafeBC (s. 24.26(3))
  • Ensure that the required rest periods following decompression are met (s. 24.51)
  • Ensure that the required diving system procedures are followed (s. 24.57)
  • Ensure that altitude diving operations are conducted in accordance with acceptable altitude diving tables (s. 24.62(1))
  • Ensure that all requirements relating to diving in contaminated environments are met (s. 24.66)

Minimum required knowledge and competencies for diving supervisors
In order to discharge the duties assigned to them under Part 24 of the Regulation, diving supervisors are required by section 24.1 to be knowledgeable and competent with the diving equipment, the diving operations in progress, emergency diving procedures, diving physics and physiology and medical aspects of diving.

  • The diving equipment: a diving supervisor has a responsibility, under section 24.18(1) of the Regulation, to ensure that all needed equipment is available and in good working condition. This includes having competence in: all breathing apparatus, compressors, air or gas banks, gas transfer pumps, recompression chambers or pressure vessels for human occupancy, carbon dioxide ("CO2") scrubbing systems, submersible compression chambers, lock-out submersibles, as well as any decontamination system used for diving operations conducted in contaminated environments.
  • The diving operations in progress: a diving supervisor is responsible, under section 24.18(1) of the Regulation, for evaluating the hazards, planning the dive and controlling the entire diving operation. In order to fulfill these responsibilities, a diving supervisor will need to be knowledgeable in matters such as: pressure differential conditions found in intakes or outlets, lockout, diving in contaminated environments, bottom conditions, penetration diving to gain access to the worksite, currents, entrapment hazards, treatment tables when utilizing a chamber, and accepted occupational dive tables. (Note: certain diving operations may be subject to the requirements of Part 9 of the Regulation relating to confined spaces. See OHS Guideline G9.1-1 for further information). A supervisor also has a responsibility, under section 24.14 of the Regulation, to confirm and initial the entries in the divers' logs and to ensure that the details and events of the dive are recorded in the supervisor's log. Finally, in order to plan the dive, the diving supervisor will need to be able to determine and assign the correct decompression schedule taking into account repetitive dives, surface intervals, the altitude of the dive site, the breathing medium, and whether the workers will be flying after diving.
  • Emergency diving procedures: this includes knowledge in, among other things: arterial gas embolisms, decompression illness or sickness, diving-related barotraumas, action on rapid ascent, loss of communications, lost diver situations, carbon monoxide and CO2 poisoning, O2 toxicity, omitted decompression, delays, emergency ascents, and flying after diving. Generally accepted emergency diving procedures are detailed in standard references such as the Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine Diving Manual and the U.S. Navy Diving Manual.
  • Diving physics: a diving supervisor will need to have a proper understanding of the gas laws (Boyle's law, Charles' law, Dalton's law, Henry's law and Archimedes' Principle) and how they apply to or could affect the diving operation.
  • Diving physiology and medical aspects of diving: this includes knowledge in human anatomy and physiological systems, as they relate to the medical aspects of diving and the evaluation of and response to diving emergencies.

In many cases, the qualifications needed for diving supervisors to properly discharge their duties under Part 24 of the Regulation will only be attained by a combination of training, diving experience, and supervisory skills. For this reason, it is good practice for diving supervisors to meet CSA Standard Z275.4-97 Competency Standard for Diving Operations, which is adopted by section 24.13(1)(a) of the Regulation in respect of divers, or the 2002 edition of that standard (referred to in OHS Guideline G24.13-2). The 2002 edition incorporates enhanced competency requirements for diving supervisors, including a mentoring and assessment process.

Questions?
Questions about diving supervisor qualifications, and other questions relating to diving operations, may be directed to the Certification Services Department of WorkSafeBC.

G24.21 Diving tables

Issued September 1999; Editorial Revision April 2005; Editorial Revision February 25, 2013; Editorial Revision December 19, 2014

Regulatory excerpt
Section 24.21(1) of the OHS Regulation ("Regulation") states:

(1) Diving operations, repetitive dives, and treatment of divers, must be carried out in strict accordance with tables and procedures published or approved by the Defense and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine (Canada).

Section 4.4 of the Regulation states, in part:

(2) When this Regulation requires a person to comply with

(b) practices, procedures or rules of the Board or another agency, the person may, as an alternative, comply with another practice, procedure or rule acceptable to the Board.

Purpose of guideline
This guideline specifies an acceptable alternate table and procedure for diving operations, repetitive dives, and treatment of divers.

Alternate diving table
WorkSafeBC has determined that the following table and procedure is an acceptable alternative to the Defense and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine (Canada) tables and procedures referenced in section 24.21(1) of the Regulation:

  1. Current United States Navy Decompression Tables and Procedures

Mixed gas diving operations other than nitrox
The Manager of Certification Services has the delegated authority to accept proprietary diving tables in mixed gas diving operations other than nitrox. Telephone 1-888-621-7233 extension 3090.

Section 24.26(3)(b) requires prior written authorization from WorkSafeBC before mixed gases other than nitrox are used. This written authorization is also obtained from Certification Services. Refer to OHS Guideline G24.26 Breathing mediums for more information on submitting requests for prior authorization.

G24.25 Acceptable standards for hyperbaric chambers

Issued March 11, 2009

Regulatory excerpt
Section 24.25 of the OHS Regulation ("Regulation") states:

Hyperbaric chambers must conform to standards acceptable to the Board and must be provided with

(a) a means of extinguishing a fire,

(b) an oxygen monitoring device,

(c) an oxygen delivery system with a built-in breathing system (BIBS), and

(d) an adequate supply of air, including an emergency reserve supply to complete any decompression and treatment procedures.

Purpose of guideline
The purpose of this guideline is to specify the standards that are considered acceptable for hyperbaric chambers under section 24.25 of the Regulation.

Acceptable standards for hyperbaric chambers
When encountering a hyperbaric chamber, WorkSafeBC officers may inspect the hyperbaric chambers for compliance with standards under section 24.25 of the Regulation. Acceptable standards, as they relate to hyperbaric chambers, for the purpose of section 24.25 include

  • CSA-Z275.1-2005 Hyperbaric Facilities
  • CSA-Z180.1-M85-2000 Compressed Breathing Air and Systems
  • CSA B51-2003 Boiler, Pressure Vessel, and Pressure Piping Code and B51S1-05 (Supplement #1)
  • ASME/ANSI PVHO-1 Safety Standard for Pressure Vessels for Human Occupancy 2002 Edition
G24.26 Breathing mediums

Issued September 1999; Revised October 23, 2009; Revised August 11, 2010

Regulatory excerpt
Subsections 24.26(3) and 24.26(4) of the OHS Regulation ("Regulation") state:

(3) If mixed gases in other than the normal proportions of respirable air are used for breathing by divers, the diving supervisor must ensure that

(a) the diving procedures and schedules of work, and decompression are in accordance with the recommendations of a competent authority, and

(b) prior written authorization has been received from the Board to use mixed gases other than nitrox and that the authorization is kept on the dive site, available for inspection by an officer.

(4) The following requirements apply to operations using nitrox mixes:

(a) procedures and mixes must be acceptable to the Board;

(b) all workers involved with nitrox diving must be trained in the procedures to a standard acceptable to the Board;

(c) proof of training and a copy of the operating procedures must be readily available at each dive site.

Purpose of guideline
The purpose of this guideline is to clarify what is required for obtaining prior authorization under subsection 24.26(3)(b) of the Regulation. The guideline also provides information about acceptable training for nitrox diving under subsection 24.26(4).

Prior authorization
The requirement for prior authorization from WorkSafeBC under subsection 24.26(3)(b) of the Regulation is additional to the requirement to submit a notice of project under section 24.9.

Requests for prior authorization to use mixed gases other than nitrox must be submitted to the Certification Services Department of WorkSafeBC. A complete submission will include the following information:

  1. Gas mixtures to be used
  2. Mixed gas qualifications for all divers and diving supervisors
  3. Diving equipment to be used and reserve gas supplies
  4. Identification of which diving tables and decompression procedures will be used
  5. Description of support equipment including hyperbaric chamber facilities
  6. Diver transportation
  7. Emergency, evacuation and communication procedures
  8. Copy of safe diving procedures

Mixed gas operations covered by subsection 24.26(3)(b) that have not been authorized by WorkSafeBC will be terminated immediately and appropriate orders written. However, the WorkSafeBC prevention officer must ensure that this will not jeopardize decompression requirements or the safety of any diver.

Acceptable procedures and training for nitrox mixes
Subsection 24.26(4) requires that operations using nitrox mixes use procedures acceptable to WorkSafeBC. It also requires that workers involved in nitrox diving be trained in the procedures to a standard acceptable to WorkSafeBC. A list of agencies that offer courses on nitrox for SCUBA, surface supply diving, and gas blending acceptable to WorkSafeBC can be found at WorkSafeBC's Diving training providers.

Questions regarding other courses that WorkSafeBC may deem acceptable under subsection 24.26(4) should be directed to the Certification Services Department at (604) 276-3090.

G24.29 Gauges and meters

Issued September 1999

Section 24.29(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation states:

Gauges and meter equipment must be tested every 6 months or whenever a malfunction is detected, and errors found must be corrected without delay.

Gauges used in diving operations must be checked against a master gauge every 6 months. The master gauge should be calibrated every 12 months by test, and the testing documented.

Gauge accuracy will be evaluated as follows

  1. measuring depths to 100 feet should have an accuracy within 1% of the maximum scale reading,
  2. measuring depths from 100 feet to 600 feet should have an accuracy within 0.5% of the maximum scale reading, and
  3. measuring other conditions, for example pressure, should have an accuracy within 2.5% of the actual condition being measured.

Periods of storage are not included in determining the time at which calibration should occur.

Guidelines Part 24 - Scuba diving

G24.36, G24.40, and G24.66(3) Minimum dive crew

Issued April 9, 2009

Regulatory excerpt
Section 24.36 of the OHS Regulation ("Regulation") (Scuba Diving – Minimum crew) provides as follows:

(1) A minimum crew of 3 workers must be present on each dive site if the dive will

(a) not exceed 18 m (60 ft) in depth, and

(b) remain within the no-decompression limit, and

(c) be made where it is known there is no hazard of entrapment.

(2) When using the buddy system, a minimum of 2 divers must be present, and a third person must stay on the surface as a supervisor/tender.

(3) When using lifelines, floats or audio communication with the surface,

(a) a standby diver and a supervisor/tender must be on the surface, and

(b) a tender must tend only one scuba diver unless the divers are on floats, or have lifelines and effective 3-way voice communication, in which case the tender may tend 2 divers.

(4) When a dive does not meet the requirements of subsection (1), then

(a) a standby diver and a supervisor/tender must stay on the surface, and

(b) if not using the buddy system, a single diver must be tethered and carry a bailout bottle.

Section 24.40 of the Regulation (Surface Supply Diving – Minimum crew) states:

(1) For each diving operation where planned dives do not exceed 40 m (130 ft) or the no-decompression limits, and where there are no hazards present, a minimum dive crew of 3 workers must be present, one of whom must be a diver's supervisor/tender, one a diver and one a standby diver on the surface unless the standby is permitted by section 24.33(3) to serve as a standby in the water.

(2) If the planned dive exceeds 40 m (130 ft), or the no- decompression limits, or there are hazards present, the dive crew must consist of a minimum of 4 workers: a diving supervisor, a diver's tender and 2 divers, one of whom must be a standby diver on the surface.

Section 24.66(3) of the Regulation (Specific Diving Hazards – Contaminated environments) states:

A minimum crew of 4 workers must be present at a diving operation in a contaminated environment, one of whom must be a diver, one a diving supervisor, one a diver's tender, and one a standby diver.

Section 24.33 of the Regulation (General Requirements – Standby diver) states:

(1) A standby diver must be

(a) on the dive site and able to render assistance at all times when diving operations are in progress,

(b) trained and equipped to operate at the depths and circumstances of the dive, and

(c) able to enter the water in one minute.

(2) A standby diver on the surface may also perform other duties provided such duties do not compromise the standby diver's ability to promptly render emergency assistance to the divers.

(3) When the diving supervisor can assure that the depth of the dive will not exceed 18 m (60 ft) and no hazards are present, 2 divers in the water may act as standby for each other provided that

(a) each diver is free swimming,

(b) the no-decompression limit is not exceeded,

(c) each diver has been trained to effectively rescue a diver in trouble and has demonstrated this ability to the diving supervisor's satisfaction,

(d) the divers are in close proximity to each other at all times so as to be able to effect rescue, and

(e) the divers are in constant audio communication with each other and the surface, or when using scuba they maintain constant physical or visual contact with each other.

(4) In subsection (3) "no hazards are present" includes but is not limited to a dive made in good weather conditions, where there are no appreciable currents, where there is good underwater visibility, no possibility of entanglement with underwater objects, and good access and egress to and from the dive site.

Purpose of guideline
The purpose of this guideline is to clarify the minimum crew requirements that apply to different types of diving operations.

Minimum crew requirements
The minimum crew requirements for various types of diving operations are set out in detail in sections 24.33, 24.36, 24.40 and 24.66(3) of the Regulation. All of the following factors affect the minimum number of workers required in a dive site, as well as the specific roles and responsibilities of each member of the crew:

  • The depth of the dive
  • The type of breathing apparatus used
  • The environmental conditions present (e.g. severe weather, contaminated environment)
  • The type of work conducted
  • Whether the duration of the dive will remain within the no-decompression limit
  • Whether there are any hazards present
  • Whether equipment such as lifelines, floats, or audio communication will be used

For scuba diving operations, section 24.36(1) of the Regulation requires a minimum crew of three workers if the dive will not exceed 18m (60 ft.) in depth, will remain within the no-decompression limit, and is made where it is known there is no hazard of entrapment. Additional obligations apply if the dive does not meet those requirements (section 24.36(4)). Further requirements apply when the buddy system or lifelines, floats, or audio communication with the surface are used (sections 24.36(2) and (3)). It should be noted that the use of scuba is prohibited in diving operations where the diver may be entrapped (s. 24.37(1)(a)).

The minimum crew requirements for surface supply diving operations are set out in section 24.40 of the Regulation. If the planned dives do not exceed 40 m (130 ft.) or the no-decompression limits, and there are no hazards present, section 24.40(1) applies. If the planned dive exceeds 40 m (130 ft.) or the no-decompression limits, or there are hazards present, the applicable minimum crew requirements are provided in section 24.40(2).

Section 24.66(3) prescribes minimum crew requirements for diving operations that are conducted in contaminated environments.

Lastly, standby diver requirements are set out in section 24.33 of the Regulation.

What constitutes a dive site
The minimum crew requirements prescribed by the Regulation apply to each dive site. A "dive site" is defined, in section 24.1 of the Regulation, as

Any location where a diving operation takes place including a boat, scow, float, raft or platform which is seaworthy, secure, and of sufficient size to safely accommodate all workers and equipment without overcrowding.

Two vessels employed by either the same firm or two different firms may constitute a single dive site if they are either tied alongside each other or working together in close proximity. Two vessels will generally be considered to be sufficiently close to each other if an effective rescue can be conducted. To allow for an effective rescue, unless the two vessels are tied alongside each other, the standby diver will need to be located on the same vessel as the diving supervisor, and be free to maneuver and render emergency assistance when required. Lastly, it is important that the boat operator be sufficiently competent to respond to diving emergencies.

A dive site can also be a location on a shoreline, in a river, in open water, or within a structure such as a pump house or water reservoir.

Roles and responsibilities of the dive site crew
This section clarifies the roles and responsibilities of diving supervisors, standby divers, and tenders. It also provides information regarding first aid requirements in diving operations.

a) Diving supervisor
The diving supervisor is responsible, under section 24.18(1) of the Regulation, for controlling the entire diving operation. This includes: ensuring that all equipment requirements are met (such as, for example, the use of bailout bottles when required by section 24.36(4)(b) of the Regulation), reviewing the divers' documents for compliance, ensuring that the necessary pre-dive checks for all diving apparatus are complete, ensuring that all support systems are operating and online, directing the work, ensuring that documentation is maintained on-site, assigning decompression schedules, meeting decompression commitments, and responding to diving emergencies.

The diving supervisor is not required to be medically certified to dive unless that person will enter the water. However, section 24.1 of the Regulation requires a diving supervisor to be knowledgeable and competent with the diving equipment, the diving operations in progress, emergency diving procedures, diving physics and physiology, and medical aspects of diving. In addition, section 24.12(3) requires diving supervisors to be trained in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation ("CPR"), oxygen therapy and diving accident management. See OHS Guideline G24.18 for further information on diving supervisor qualifications.

The diving supervisor will not be able to carry out the duties of a standby diver (or a diver) until properly relieved, as required by section 24.18(3)(b). With a crew of three this would not be possible until the diver has reached the surface and a rotation of duties and responsibilities has taken place.

b) Standby diver
Under section 24.13(1) of the Regulation, the standby diver is required to be competent to use the diving equipment and meet the minimum requirements of CSA Standard Z275.4-97 Competency Standard for Diving Operations (or Z275.4-02, as permitted by OHS Guideline G24.13-2).

Section 24.33(1)(a) of the Regulation requires a standby diver to be on the dive site and able to render assistance at all times when diving operations are in progress. As a result, the standby diver's lifeline or umbilical will need to be able to reach the deepest or farthest diver at all times. As provided in section 24.33(2), the standby diver may conduct other jobs on the surface as long as they do not interfere with that person's ability to enter the water within one minute and to reach each diver to render emergency assistance when needed. The standby diver may, for example, assist in tending the diver in the water. However, as stated above, the diving supervisor will not be able to carry out the duties of a standby diver (or a diver) until properly relieved.

In dive sites where two divers in the water are acting as standby for each other, "no hazards are present" (as defined by section 24.33(4) of the Regulation), and the diving supervisor can assure that the depth of the dive will not exceed 18 m (60 ft.), the requirements listed in paragraphs (a) through (e) of section 24.33(3) of the Regulation apply.

c) Tender
A "diver's tender" is defined under section 24.1 of the Regulation as

A worker who is competent and knowledgeable in the diving apparatus being used, the diving operation in progress, emergency diving procedures and communications between diver and tender.

Section 24.36(3)(b) of the Regulation requires each diver in a scuba diving operation to have one dedicated tender unless the divers are on floats, or have lifelines and effective three-way voice communication, in which case one tender may tend two divers. The duties of the tender include taking action as directed by the diving supervisor and being able to send and respond to signals as well as to communicate clearly the location and condition of the divers.

First aid requirements
When considering occupational first aid requirements for work sites, the employer is responsible for conducting an assessment of the workplace in accordance with section 3.16 of the Regulation. In conducting this assessment, the employer should consider the high risk of injury involved in diving operations. It should be noted that section 3.3 of CSA Standard Z275.4-97, adopted under section 24.13(1)(a) of the Regulation, requires all divers to have up-to-date knowledge of, and be proficient in, CPR and basic first aid.

Finally, section 24.31 of the Regulation requires that a power rescue boat be available for immediate use in dive sites where divers are on floats. This allows the supervisor and the standby diver to respond to diving emergencies and to recover divers from the water when required.

Questions?
Questions about diving supervisor qualifications, and other questions relating to diving operations, may be directed to the Certification Services Department of WorkSafeBC.

G24.37 Restrictions on scuba

Issued September 1999

Section 24.37(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation states:

Scuba must not be used in underwater construction, burning, welding, salvage operations, demolition, jetting and suction dredging or other diving operations in which the diver

(a) may be entrapped,

(b) does not have free access to the surface,

(c) may be exposed to a contaminated environment, or

(d) could be adversely affected by hazardous underwater or surface work activities or conditions which could be alleviated if the diver were using surface supplied air.

This section does not prevent the use of scuba in all operations involving underwater construction, burning, welding, salvage, demolition, jetting and suction dredging. It only applies to those operations where one of paragraphs (a) to (d) apply.

Guidelines Part 24 - Surface supply diving

G24.40 Minimum dive crew

See guideline G24.36, G24.40, and G24.66(3) Minimum dive crew

G24.43 Surface supply diving – Compressors

Issued September 1999

Supply of air

Section 24.43(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation states:

Compressors used to supply air to divers must be…capable of maintaining a supply of air equal to at least double the volume of air required.

What volume of compressor breathing air is required to support a diver(s) working at depth?

There are two basic types of surface supply equipment used by divers: free flow and demand regulator. Each type will require a different volume.

The volume of surface supplied air required for a diver will increase with increases in the diver's depth (called the diver's ambient pressure) and is expressed in atmospheres absolute. (Depth + 33 divided by 33 = divers depth in atmospheres absolute.)

Diving operations that employ free-flow helmets and masks such as Desco, Divex/Swindell or Aquadyne Air should have flow volumes of at least 6 actual cubic feet per minute (acfm) per diver. This volume is needed to ventilate the diver's helmet/mask of any CO2 as a result of the diver's expired air. (The diver's inspired air should not exceed 2% CO2.) To calculate the volume of air for a free flow mask/helmet at any depth, the following equation should be used:

R = 6 x Pa x N

R = required ventilation rate in acfm (actual cubic feet per minute)

6 = the 6 cubic feet per minute per diver

Pa = The absolute pressure at working depth (expressed in atmospheres absolute)

N = The number of divers to be supplied at the working depth.

Example:

What is the acfm required for two divers using lightweight free flow diving helmets in 66 feet seawater? (66 feet of depth equals 3 atmospheres absolute)

R = 6 x Pa x N

= 6 acfm x3 atmospheres absolute (divers' depth) x2 divers =36 acfm

= 36 acfm (doubled to meet 24.43 (a)) = 72 acfm)

Diving operations that use demand type equipment such as the U.S. Divers' EXO Mask, Kirby Morgan Band Masks, Superlite helmets and Hooka diving operations (which use SCUBA regulators in a surface supplied mode) will require less volume than the free flow type. For Hooka operations the rate is 3.2 acfm. (The peak inhalation rate is 3.2 acfm while performing heavy work, according to the US Navy's Diving Manual.) A divers air requirement will vary with the demands of the work level. (The rate at which air is consumed in a system may be significantly lower than the peak inhalation flow rate. However, the air supply must be able to meet the greatest demand and the manufacturer's requirements.)

Example:

The acfm required for two divers using Hooka gear diving in 66 feet of seawater. (The second diver may be the standby diver on the surface)

R = 3.2 x Pa x N

R = 3.2 acfm x 3 atmospheres absolute x 2 divers = 19.2 acfm

R = 19.2 acfm x 2 (doubled to meet 24.43 (a)) = 38 acfm

Where a manufacturer specifies greater volumes than 3.2 acfm, that number should be used in the equation in place of 3.2. For example, the U.S. Divers EXO mask, the Kirby Morgan band masks and Superlite helmets require 4.5 acfm.

With regard to both types of equipment,

  • all calculations for volume should be based on the deepest depth of dive,
  • the compressor pressure requirements of section 24.43(b) of the OHS Regulation must be met, and
  • the system volume tank should be large enough to maintain a steady supply as specified in section 24.44.

Reference materials:

The Association of Diving Contractors Consensus Standards for Commercial Diving Operations (1994),

US Navy Diving Manual (1993 edition),

NOAA Diving Manual (1993).

J.B. Morrison (1993), Evaluation of Underwater breathing Apparatus used in British Columbia, Simon Fraser University.

Pressure

Section 24.43(b) of the OHS Regulation states "Compressors used to supply air to divers must be…capable of developing pressure at least 25% greater than the anticipated pressure requirement."

What are the minimum pressures needed for supplying sufficient breathing air to surface supplied divers?

The diver's air supply system must be capable of delivering sufficient breathing air to the diver at a pressure that overcomes the water pressure at the divers' working depth plus a 25% safety factor in the event of a sudden descent below the planned working depth.

An additional factor is pressure loss inherent in any surface supplied diving system, for example, resistance through valves, regulators and hose lengths. Usually an additional 10 psi should be added to any total. Where more than 400 feet of hose are used, then another 10 psi should be added.

Calculations for pressure requirements are completed in absolute pressures, so 14.7 psi is added to any pressure requirements, to give psia.

There are two types of surface supplied diving equipment: free flow and demand. Each has different pressure requirements.

Divers using "free flow type" air masks or diving helmets to depths of 120 feet should have a minimum pressure of 64.7 psia over the diver's ambient pressure. When diving over 120 feet, the pressure should be increased to 114.7 psia over the diver's ambient pressure.

To calculate the pressures required to supply breathing air to a diver using free flow equipment in less than 120 feet of seawater (fsw), use this formula:

Ps = ((0.445 x D) + 64.7 + Pi) x 1.25

Ps = Air pressures required to support a diver at a given depth using free flow equipment

D = diver's depth in fsw

64.7 = 50 psi + 14.7 psi = the absolute pressure (64.7 psia)

Pi = add 10 psi for pressure losses in the system (20 psi if hose is over 400 feet)

25% = safety factor required by section 24.43(b)

Example 1: A dive to 100 fsw.

Ps = ((.445 x 100) + 64.7 + 10) x 1.25 = 149 psi required.

Example 2: A dive to 130 fsw

Ps = ((.445 x 130)) + 114.7 + 10) x 1.25 = 228 psi required

(114.7 psi is the absolute hose pressure (100 psi + 14.7 psi) when diving over 120 fsw)

For helmets and masks using demand regulators with oral nasal fittings such as Kirby Morgan band masks, Superlite helmets, US Divers EXO masks and Hooka Divers using scuba regulators, the pressures required are much higher. The minimum pressures should be not less than 135 psi over bottom pressure. (Add 14.7 to 135 = 149.7 psia.) The formula to calculate compressor pressures required to supply over bottom pressures for demand type helmets and Hooka is;

Ps = ((.445 x D) + 149.7 psia + Pi) x 1.25

Example 1:

A diver working to a depth of 60 fsw

Ps = ((.445 x 60) + 149.7 + 10) x 1.25 = 233 psi required

Example 2.

A diver working to a depth of 130 fsw.

Ps = ((.445 x 130) + 149.7 + 10) x 1.25 = 272 psi is required.

Some dive equipment manufacturers recommend even higher over bottom pressures to reduce breathing resistance at the second stage regulator.

G24.66(3) Minimum dive crew

See guideline G24.36, G24.40, and G24.66(3) Minimum dive crew

Guidelines Part 24 - Fishing operations: General requirements

G24.69 Fishing operations – Determining who is the employer

Issued September 1999; Editorial Revision May 2005; Revised November 21, 2006

Regulatory excerpt
Section 24.69 of the OHS Regulation ("Regulation") states:

Sections 24.70 to 24.143 apply to all owners, masters and crewmembers of licensed commercial fishing vessels.

Section 106 of the Workers Compensation Act ("Act") states:

"employer" means

(c) the owner and the master of a fishing vessel for which there is crew to whom Part 1 applies as if the crew were workers,

but does not include a person exempted from the application of this Part by order of the Board;

Section 115 of the Act states:

Every employer must

(1) (a) ensure the health and safety of

(i) all workers working for that employer, and

(ii) any other workers present at a workplace at which that employer's work is being carried out, and

(b) comply with this Part, the regulations and any applicable orders.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), an employer must

(a) remedy any workplace conditions that are hazardous to the health or safety of the employer's workers,

(b) ensure that the employer's workers

(i) are made aware of all known or reasonably foreseeable health or safety hazards to which they are likely to be exposed by their work,

(ii) comply with this Part, the regulations and any applicable orders, and

(iii) are made aware of their rights and duties under this Part and the regulations,

(c) establish occupational health and safety policies and programs in accordance with the regulations,

(d) provide and maintain in good condition protective equipment, devices and clothing as required by regulation and ensure that these are used by the employer's workers,

(e) provide to the employer's workers the information, instruction, training and supervision necessary to ensure the health and safety of those workers in carrying out their work and to ensure the health and safety of other workers at the workplace,

(f) make a copy of this Act and the regulations readily available for review by the employer's workers and, at each workplace where workers of the employer are regularly employed, post and keep posted a notice advising where the copy is available for review,

(g) consult and cooperate with the joint committees and worker health and safety representatives for workplaces of the employer, and

(h) cooperate with the Board, officers of the Board and any other person carrying out a duty under this Part or the regulations.

Purpose of guideline
The purpose of this guideline is to provide principles to consider in determining to what extent the owner or master of a fishing vessel carries the responsibilities of the employer under Part 3 of the Act and the Regulation.

Employer responsibilities of masters and owners under OHS legislation
Background - both owners and masters are employers of the crew
The workplace party with primary responsibility over health and safety is the employer. Section 115 of the Act contains specific obligations with respect to an employer. In addition, the Regulation places many requirements on the employer.

In the fishing industry, both owners and masters may be considered to be the employer of the crew. Section 106 of the Act defines "employer" for the purposes of Part 3 of the Act and the Regulation. That definition includes the owner and master of a fishing vessel for which there are crew members to whom Part 1 of the Act applies as if the crew were workers. Therefore both owners and masters of fishing vessels are required to meet the responsibilities of an "employer" specified by the Regulation and Part 3 of the Act. The level of compliance of owners and masters with their obligations as "employer" may vary according to the situation. The following guideline sets out basic principles for determining the "employer" obligations of owners and masters.

"Employer" obligations
Masters and owners each play different roles in a commercial fishing operation. Each "employer" will be responsible for workplace conditions to the extent they have influence over them. Determining the degree of control over and ability to influence a particular workplace condition may involve assessing

  • The type of operation carried on by the owner and master
  • The contract between the master and vessel owner
  • The reality of the relationship between the owner, master, and crew
  • Whether the owner or master hired the crew members

Note that s. 124 of the Act contemplates obligations being imposed on one or more persons and supports the notion of joint responsibility over workplace health and safety. That section states:

If

(a) one or more provisions of this Part or the regulations impose the same obligation on more than one person, and

(b) one of the persons subject to the obligation complies with the applicable provision, the other persons subject to the obligation are relieved of that obligation only during the time when

(c) simultaneous compliance by more than one person would result in unnecessary duplication of effort and expense, and

(d) the health and safety of persons at the workplace is not put at risk by compliance by only one person.

The following sets out the responsibility: for owners and masters over the two primary aspects of the fishing vessel workplace; vessel operation and infrastructure. However, as noted above, the obligation of the owner or master will have obligations based on the reality of the relationship and the ability to influence workplace safety.

1. Crew and operation of the vessel
The master generally hires the crew and obviously is the "employer" who will be present at the workplace during fishing operations. The master will have more control over the crew than the owner, and will normally be the employer primarily responsible for crew safety while the vessel is being operated.

This primary responsibility will extend to a number of elements listed in s. 115(2), such as providing instruction as to workplace hazards, ensuring the crew use protective equipment and devices, ensuring a safety program is in place, and making a copy of the Act and Regulation available to crew members.

The master's responsibility related to certain items in s. 115(2) may be more limited, if there are limitations to the manner in which the master is capable of fulfilling those obligations.

For example, s. 115(2)(a) provides that the employer must remedy workplace conditions that are hazardous to the health and safety of workers. A master may be able to directly remedy some workplace conditions, but not all. Where the workplace condition relates to the integrity or maintenance of the vessel or equipment, the master will be expected to provide information about the hazardous condition to the owner. The owner will then have the obligation, also under s. 115(2)(a) to remedy the relevant hazards.

Similarly, the manner in which each of the master or owner will comply with the obligation to train crew members, establish safety policies and programs, and consult with health and safety representatives (where required), will depend on the circumstances and the relationship between the owner, master, and crew members. For example, where owners are more involved in the selection of the crew and the terms of employment, those owners will bear primary responsibility for training the crew, while the master's role will relate more to direct instruction. Where the master is primarily involved in hiring, the master will bear more responsibility for training and the owner's responsibility may be limited to directing the master and ensuring the master complies with his or her obligations.

Even where vessel owners have little or no direct control over the crew and operation of the vessel, and where the master hired the crew members, owners will retain the obligation to ensure the health and safety of crew members of the vessel under section 115(1)(a)(ii). Vessel owners may control deadlines, quotas, or any other operating requirements that could affect the health and safety of workers.

Further reference should be made to specific obligations placed on masters and owners in ss. 24.69 through 24.143 of the Regulation. In general, sections 24.69 to 24.143 place responsibility for operating the vessel safely with the master, and place responsibility for the infrastructure, maintenance, and overall integrity of the vessel and equipment with the owner.

Where a vessel constitutes a "multiple employer workplace" under s. 118, the master will be the owner who will act as a prime contractor unless a prime is appointed.

2. Infrastructure, maintenance, and overall integrity of the vessel and equipment
In general, the vessel owner has control over the infrastructure, maintenance, and overall integrity of the vessel and equipment. Therefore, the owner will typically be responsible for employer duties that relate to the infrastructure, maintenance, and overall integrity of the vessel and equipment.

For example, requirements in the Regulation that relate to general conditions of the workplace will primarily be the owner's responsibility.

Section 4.2 of the Regulation requires the employer to ensure that each building and temporary or permanent structure in a workplace is capable of withstanding any stresses likely to be imposed on it. The vessel owner would typically be responsible for meeting this requirement because the vessel owner typically has control over the integrity of the structures on the vessel.

However, certain requirements with respect to the workplace may fall to both owners and masters. For example, under section 3.5 of the Regulation, every employer must ensure that regular inspections are made of all workplaces, including tools, equipment, machinery, and work methods and practices, at intervals that will prevent the development of unsafe working conditions. Both the owner and master have responsibility for fulfilling this duty.

Sections 24.69 to 24.143 of the Regulation specify particular responsibilities of owners and masters. In general, sections 24.69 to 24.143 place responsibility for the infrastructure, maintenance, and overall integrity of the vessel and equipment with the owner. For example, under section 24.71, the owner of the vessel must ensure that all machinery and equipment on board a fishing vessel is capable of safely performing the functions for which it is used. Under section 24.82, the master must ensure that all rigging is inspected regularly to ensure that it is able to safely carry out the work for which it was designed.

Masters will also have obligations to protect crew members with respect to vessel and equipment maintenance and integrity. Masters would be expected to understand the operating characteristics and limitations of the vessel, and communicate issues relating to the maintenance and integrity of the vessel and equipment to the owner.

Note also that vessel owners must comply with the general duties of owners under section 119 of the Act.

G24.70 Compliance with Standards

Issued February 3, 2005

Section 24.70 of the OHS Regulation provides:

All fishing vessels must

(a) be maintained in seaworthy condition.

Prevention Policy R24.70-1 clarifies what should be considered in determining whether a vessel is in "seaworthy condition" for the purposes of s. 24.70(a). That Policy provides the following definition of "seaworthy" from Kerchove's International Maritime Dictionary (2nd Edition):

The sufficiency of a vessel in materials, construction, equipment, crew and outfit for trade or service in which it is employed…

The Policy further provides that determining seaworthiness involves consideration of a number of factors, including:

  • Construction, structure and stability of the vessel;
  • Machinery and equipment on the vessel;
  • Load being carried and its distribution on the vessel;
  • Place or places to which the vessel will be voyaging; and
  • Weather and sea conditions that the vessel is likely to encounter.

This guideline is intended to provide direction on maintaining fishing vessels in a seaworthy condition as required by OSHR 24.70(a), with reference to stability considerations.

Standards for the construction of fishing vessels fall under the jurisdiction of Transport Canada. Reference should be made to the regulations, policies and best practices established by Transport Canada. In particular, Transport Canada publishes vessel construction criteria and standards as well as a number of guides with respect to the safe operation of fishing vessels, including:

  • Manual of Safety and Health for Fishermen (TP 1283)
  • An Introduction to Fishing Vessel Stability (TP 8161)
  • Small Fishing Vessel Safety Manual (TP 10038)

The Board has also published Gearing Up For Safety, which provides advice on the safe operation of fishing vessels. In addition, the U.S. Coast Guard publication A Best Practices Guide to Vessel Stability: Guiding Fishermen Safely into the Future offers some useful advice on maintaining fishing vessel stability.

Loss of vessel stability leading to foundering or capsizing is a major cause of fatalities in the fishing industry. Ensuring a vessel's stability is maintained and well understood throughout its life is essential to preventing fatalities. It is crucial that owners of fishing vessels remain aware of the stability characteristics of their vessels, and that they communicate these characteristics to vessel masters and crew.

Vessel stability – owner and master responsibilities
The responsibility for ensuring the vessel continues to possess stability characteristics that render it seaworthy under all anticipated sailing conditions rests with the vessel owner. The vessel owner should limit vessel operations so that it is not operated in conditions that would render the vessel unstable. In addition, the owner should undertake any necessary vessel modifications to ensure no workers are put at risk by the possibility of the vessel becoming unstable during anticipated or reasonably foreseeable operating conditions. A vessel owner is also responsible for ensuring that documentation describing vessel stability characteristics is readily available to crew members on board the vessel (see OHSR s. 24.72(b)).

The vessel master is responsible for ensuring that the fishing vessel is capable of safely making the voyage planned, with due consideration being given to the seaworthiness and stability of the vessel (see OHSR s. 24.76). The master should refer to the vessel stability documentation provided by the owner in accordance with OHSR s. 24.72(b) in making this assessment.

A copy of the documentation setting out the vessel's stability characteristics must be readily available on the vessel for reference by master and crew (see OHSR s. 24.72(b)).

Vessel stability
Vessel stability is a very complex subject. The "stability" of a vessel refers to its ability to stay upright in the water, or, more accurately its ability to return to an upright position after being heeled by an external force. Many forces influence the stability of a vessel in the water, and each vessel will respond differently to heeling forces and will have different stability characteristics at different heel angles.

A properly maintained boat will resist heeling forces when loaded and operated within its operational limits. Determining those operational limits depends on understanding the relationship between a vessel's buoyancy and its centre of gravity. Maintaining vessel stability to ensure seaworthiness means that the vessel's owner should be aware of inevitable changes in the vessel's buoyancy and centre of gravity over time and the effect of such changes on the vessel's stability.

Given the complexity of vessel stability, vessel owners and operators are well advised to consult vessel stability textbooks or seek further information or training for a greater understanding of the issue and the criteria that may be applied to evaluate vessel stability.

Vessel owners should also have the stability of their vessels assessed by a qualified naval architect.

Assessing vessel stability
Standards and requirements for vessel stability are under the jurisdiction of Transport Canada. Currently only fishing vessels larger than 24.4 metres and 150 gross tons, and those vessels up to 24.4 metres and 150 gross tons engaged in the herring and capelin fisheries are required to have their stability assessed in accordance with the federal Large Fishing Vessel Inspection Regulations and Small Fishing Vessel Inspection Regulations. There are currently no federal regulatory requirements for small fishing vessels (i.e. those under 24.4 metres and 150 gross tons, except for those engaged in the herring and capelin fisheries) to have their stability formally evaluated. However, it is recommended that the federal standards and requirements in place for other fishing vessels be used as a guide for assessing small fishing vessel stability. The following information is also provided to assist in maintaining vessel stability.

Vessel stability characteristics should be evaluated and understood prior to the vessel's first voyage. In addition, reevaluation of a vessel's stability characteristics may be necessary where modifications are made to the vessel.

It is also important to note that vessel stability characteristics will also change over the life of the vessel. The accumulation of weight over the life of the vessel, such as the cumulative addition of equipment, will likely cause a vessel to get heavier and its centre of gravity to rise, decreasing its stability. Even the gradual accumulation of dirt and paint may, over time, create a negative impact on stability.

There are two primary methods for assessing vessel stability: roll period tests and inclining experiments.

It is recommended that Transport Canada Marine be consulted in order to obtain complete information on conducting vessel stability tests.

a) Roll period tests

A roll period test determines the length of time it takes a heeled vessel to right itself. The vessel is heeled and its progress to complete one full roll cycle is timed. Changes to a vessel's roll period are a rough way of evaluating whether the vessel's stability is degrading. Providing the vessel has not undergone any appreciable modifications or alterations roll period tests should be undertaken at least every four years as a means to monitor changes to the vessel through its lifetime. If roll period times are increasing over the life of the vessel, it is an indication of the vessel becoming increasingly unstable and that further assessment of the vessel's stability should be undertaken.

It should be stressed that whether roll period tests are effective as a rough method of evaluating the stability of a given vessel will depend on the hull design and other characteristics of the vessel. Roll period tests are likely to be of limited use for vessels with hard chines or flat bottom hulls, for example.

b) Inclining Experiments

Inclining experiments are far more rigorous and informative than roll period tests and are used to accurately measure the vertical height of the vessel's center of gravity above the keel. Due to their complexity, inclining experiments, and their associated calculations, must be performed by a qualified naval architect in accordance with appropriate vessel stability criteria as established by Transport Canada.

An inclining experiment consists of moving one or more large weights across the vessel and measuring the resulting angle of heel. Once the experiment has been completed, a detailed set of calculations is performed to determine the vessel's lightship (i.e. unloaded) weight and centre of gravity. These calculations, in turn, can be used to determine the vessel's operational limitations and will be used to determine the vessel's stability characteristics under a range of operating and environmental conditions.

c) Vessels of Open Construction

The stability of a vessel of open construction (currently defined by Transport Canada as a vessel that has less than 50 percent of its length covered, full width, by decks or permanent enclosures or as defined in the Canada Shipping Act or associated regulations) relies primarily on the maintenance of adequate freeboard (being the distance between the water and the gunwale of the vessel). In addition, inclining experiments are not designed to assess stability characteristics of a vessel of open construction. As a result, such vessels should be provided with a means of quickly assessing during the vessel's operation whether the vessel is capable of maintaining adequate freeboard. The purpose is to provide a guide to the vessel master and crew with respect to loading limits under various operating and environmental conditions. The means of evaluating freeboard should be created in accordance with a formal stability assessment of the vessel.

A common method of evaluating freeboard is the use of a load mark. Where a load mark is used as the method of evaluating freeboard, the load mark should be permanently affixed to the vessel so that it is visible through any paint or hull finish treatment, and it should be affixed to the vessel in sufficient locations so that the maximum load can be determined at any trim angle.

Stability criteria
Transport Canada should be contacted for further information on vessel stability standards.

Board enforcement
In conducting inspections and investigations, Board officers will evaluate whether the vessel has been supplied with meaningful and clear vessel stability documentation.

Prevention Policy R24.70-1 describes the process that a board officer will follow if they encounter a vessel where stability may be a concern:

Where a Board officer considers that a vessel is clearly unseaworthy, he or she will make an order to correct the situation. Where the officer has a concern over seaworthiness but is not sure, and the vessel is over 15 tons, the officer may require production of the vessel's Canada Steamship Inspection certificate issued under the Canada Shipping Act. If no certificate is available, the officer may order that one be obtained. Where the vessel is less than 15 tons, the officer may consult with the Canada Coast Guard [now Transport Canada Marine] for advice as to the seaworthiness of the vessel and whether applicable federal regulations have been complied with. The officer may order that a survey be conducted by a marine surveyor, architect or engineer if he or she considers that there is a serious question as to the seaworthiness of a boat.

Where an officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a vessel's lack of seaworthiness presents an immediate danger to its crew, the officer may issue a stop work order (see Workers Compensation Act s. 191), requiring an assessment of the vessel's stability and work undertaken to the vessel to ensure its stability in accordance with the assessment.

G24.71 Owner and master responsibilities – Major modifications

Issued February 3, 2005

Section 24.71(2) of the OHS Regulation states:

The owner must ensure that major modifications to a fishing vessel do not adversely affect the stability of the vessel.

This guideline explains when an owner should reassess a fishing vessel's stability after the vessel has been modified.

Owners should ensure that vessel stability is assessed on an ongoing basis in accordance with Guideline G24.70 and that documentation is maintained on board the vessel as described in Guideline G24.72. In addition, modifications to the vessel may require vessel stability to be reassessed and on-board documentation to be updated.

If a Canadian ship, including a fishing vessel, is altered to the extent that it no longer corresponds with its description or particulars set out on the certificate of registry, the authorized representative of the ship must notify Transport Canada within 30 days after the alteration. Following this notification, Transport Canada may inspect the vessel, and as a result of the inspection require a stability test, or some other means of verifying the seaworthiness of the vessel.

Typically, stability should be re-assessed when the weight of a single modification or the cumulative weight of multiple modifications exceeds 3% of the vessel's lightship weight before modifications.

It may be possible, depending on the design of the vessel, to determine changes to a vessel's weight and centre of gravity resulting from vessel modifications, and the impact of the modifications on the vessel's stability through roll period testing. However, where there is any doubt about the accuracy of the information created through the roll period test, new inclining experiments may be necessary to determine new safe operating limitations as a result of the new vessel weight and centre of gravity.

G24.72 Documentation

Issued February 3, 2005

Section 24.72 of the OHS Regulation states:

The owner of every fishing vessel must provide documentation on board, readily available to crewmembers, which describes (…)

(b) vessel characteristics, including stability.

Prevention Policy R24.72-1 states:

Under section 24.72(b), the owner must give notice of unique features of the vessel which might not otherwise be known to a new master and crew and which might cause hazards in certain situations if the boat is not properly handled. This includes instructions on how to perform operations on the vessel without impairing its stability and seaworthiness.

This guideline sets out what information should be set out in the on-board documentation, required under OHSR s. 24.72(b), with respect to description of vessel stability characteristics.

When required
As noted in Policy R24.72-1, it is essential that the master and crew of a fishing vessel be provided instruction on how to perform operations on the vessel without impairing its stability and seaworthiness, particularly where there may be unique features or characteristics to the vessel which they may not be aware of.

Content of On-Board documentation
It is imperative that on-board documentation provide meaningful and detailed information with respect to vessel characteristics, and in particular vessel stability. On-board documentation respecting vessel characteristics should therefore be created and updated in accordance with vessel stability tests. On-board documentation should contain appropriate information relative to loading under each of the conditions for which results obtained from the inclining experiment have been developed (see Guideline G24.70). The documentation should also address, in accordance with Policy R24.70-1, the effect on the vessel's stability of the following:

  • Construction and structure of the vessel;
  • Machinery and equipment on the vessel;
  • Load being carried, including fresh water, catch, cargo, skiffs, equipment, fuel containers and supplies, and the distribution of the load on the vessel;
  • Place or places to which the vessel will be voyaging; and
  • Weather and sea conditions that the vessel is likely to encounter.

Owners should consider including a load chart, load matrix, loading condition sheet, electronic loading software or other similar instruction as part of the on-board documentation.

In addition, for vessels of open construction (as described in Guideline G24.70), on-board documentation should include documentation or data used to establish the load line, and should clearly indicate how to use the load mark to establish safe load and operating limitations.

With respect to trap vessels, which have specific risks because they often carry large weights up high which can adversely affect the vessel's stability, on-board documentation should specify the maximum number and size of traps carried, as well as their stowage location and configuration during transport, while fishing under the various anticipated loading and operating conditions.

It is crucial in all circumstances that on-board documentation accurately reflect the vessel's typical loading condition and modes of operation, and the effect on the vessel's stability of such factors as:

  • Stowage and placement of equipment and cargo;
  • Use of on-board cranes or other hoisting equipment;
  • The effect of and limits to side loading operations;
  • Towage of nets, skiffs or other vessels;
  • Gear deployment and retrieval practices;
  • Weather and sea conditions.

The documentation should clearly state that it is unsafe for the vessel to sail if it is loaded outside of its stability limitations.

The documentation describing the stability characteristics of the vessel must be presented in a format that is readily understandable by the vessel master and crew.

It is recommended that Transport Canada Marine be consulted in order to obtain complete information on creating on-board stability documentation.

Enforcement
Where a vessel lacks stability documentation required under OHSR s. 24.72(b), a board officer may issue an order citing the violation requiring a compliance plan. Should the vessel owner fail to comply with the order, enforcement may include additional orders, warning letters, penalties or prosecution.

Where the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the vessel's lack of on-board documentation presents an immediate danger to its crew, the officer may issue a stop work order (see Workers Compensation Act s. 191). The stop work order would prohibit the vessel from sailing until appropriate documentation is available indicating the safe operating limitations for the planned voyage, and the master and crew are adequately instructed.

G24.76 Vessel preparation

Issued February 3, 2005

Section 24.76 of the OHS Regulation states that:

Before leaving on a voyage the master must ensure that the fishing vessel is capable of safely making the passage, due consideration being given to

(a) the seaworthiness of the vessel,

(b) the stowage and securing of all cargo, skiffs, equipment, fuel containers and supplies,

(c) ballasting, and

(d) present and forecast weather conditions.

Prevention Policy R24.76-1 states:

Section 24.76 imposes an obligation on the master to consider the vessel's seaworthiness in relation to the particular voyage being planned. Section 24.76 recognizes that a vessel may be seaworthy for voyages to some places, such as on a river, but not voyages to other places, such as the open sea.

The guideline outlines factors a master should consider in ensuring the fishing vessel is capable of safely making a voyage, in accordance with OHSR s. 24.76.

Certification, navigation and construction of fishing vessels is under the jurisdiction of Transport Canada. Reference should be made to the regulations, policies and best practices established by Transport Canada.

Seaworthiness
"Seaworthiness" is discussed in Guideline G24.70, and relates to the construction, structure and stability of the vessel.

Poor seaworthiness of vessels, in particular with respect to stability, has resulted in many accidents leading to fatalities. Many accidents could have been prevented if operators had taken proper precautions and heeded warning signs regarding the possible lack of seaworthiness of their vessels.

The master should carefully review the on-board documentation provided by the owner (see Guideline G24.72), and determine any operating limitations for the planned voyage.

In addition, the following should be verified by the master prior to any voyage:

  • The vessel's roll is normal;
  • List is minimized and trim angle is appropriate;
  • Freeboard is adequate;
  • Free surface (the movement of liquid side to side, which can cause the vessel's centre of gravity to shift) is minimized;
  • The vessel possesses adequate water and weather tight integrity.

Loading
The master should also carefully consider, with regard to the on-board documentation provided by the owner, the loading of the vessel at various stages of the voyage. Consideration should be given to:

  • the type of load to be carried by the vessel;
  • potential overloading of the vessel;
  • appropriate distribution of the load;
  • securing of loads;
  • anticipated use of on board cranes or other hoisting equipment;
  • anticipated side load such as side lifting of fishing gear or the tow points of skiffs.

The master should also anticipate external forces that the vessel will encounter during the voyage, including wind, icing and sea conditions.

Transport Canada publishes the following useful guides which provide additional information on fishing vessel safety:

  • Manual of Safety and Health for Fishermen (TP 1283)
  • An Introduction to Fishing Vessel Stability (TP 8161)
  • Small Fishing Vessel Safety Manual (TP 10038)

The Board has also published Gearing Up For Safety, which provides advice on the safe operation of fishing vessels. In addition, the U.S. Coast Guard publication A Best Practices Guide to Vessel Stability: Guiding Fishermen Safely into the Future offers some useful advice on maintaining fishing vessel stability.

G24.97(1) Acceptable standards for immersion suits

Issued February 11, 2009; Revised December 14, 2012; Editorial Revision July 23, 2014

Regulatory excerpt
Section 24.97(1) of the OHS Regulation ("Regulation") states:

Every fishing vessel must carry, for each crewmember, one immersion suit meeting standards acceptable to the Board.

Purpose of guideline
The purpose of this guideline is to specify acceptable standards for immersion suits under section 24.97(1) of the Regulation.

Acceptable standards for immersion suits
Under section 24.97(1) of the Regulation, every fishing vessel must carry one immersion suit for each crew member. These immersion suits are required to meet a standard acceptable to WorkSafeBC. The following are acceptable standards:

  1. The International Maritime Organization's International Life-Saving Appliances Code (LSA Code) (2010 edition) referenced at page 52 of their website available at http://www.imo.org/en/MediaCentre/PressBriefings/Pages/Life-Saving-Appliances-2010-Edition.aspx
  2. The Canadian General Standards Board's CAN/CGSB-65.16-2005 Immersion Suit Systems available at http://www.oshsi.nl.ca/userfiles/files/P00074.pdf
  3. Underwriters Laboratories' UL 1197 Immersion Suits, 3rd edition (2007), available at http://ulstandards.ul.com/standard/?id=1197_3
  4. The International Standards Organization's ISO 15027-2002 - Immersion Suits. The ISO Standards catalogue is available at http://www.iso.org/iso/home/store/catalogue_tc/catalogue_detail.htm?csnumber=52164
  5. Transport Canada's TC 14475E Canadian Life Saving Appliance Standard, First Edition, March 2010, available at http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/marinesafety/tp-tp14475-menu-3033.htm

In cases where immersion suits do not meet any of the above standards, an application needs to be made to WorkSafeBC – Regulatory Practices Department to determine if the immersion suits meet an acceptable alternate standard.

Proper maintenance
Immersion suits should be regularly maintained and inspected to ensure they are in proper working order. This includes the inspection of seals to check their integrity, and the inspection for leaks. An immersion suit which has not been properly maintained or is no longer able to meet the requirements of any of the standards listed above is not considered to meet a standard acceptable to WorkSafeBC. This is the case even where the immersion suit was marked as meeting one of the above standards when manufactured.

Disclaimer: The Workers' Compensation Board of B.C. ("WorkSafeBC") publishes the online version Occupational Health and Safety Regulation ("OHS Regulation") in accordance with its mandate under the Workers Compensation Act to provide information and promote public awareness of occupational health and safety matters. The online OHS Regulation is not the official version of the OHS Regulation, which may be purchased from Crown Publications. WorkSafeBC endeavours to update the online OHS Regulation as soon as possible following any legislative amendments. However, WorkSafeBC does not warrant the accuracy or the completeness of the online OHS Regulation, and neither WorkSafeBC nor its board of directors, employees or agents shall be liable to any person for any loss or damage of any nature, whether arising out of negligence or otherwise, arising from the use of the online OHS Regulation. Employers are legally obligated to make a copy of the Workers Compensation Act and the OHS Regulation readily available for review by workers. The circumstances under which WorkSafeBC may consider an employer's providing access to electronic versions of the Act and OHS Regulation to have satisfied this obligation are described in Guideline G-D3-115(2)(f).