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Diving Safety Requirements


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) specifies that diving operations meet the commercial diving requirements listed in CFR 1910, Subpart T – Commercial Diving Operations, unless the diving conducted meets certain exemptions. One of these exemptions is diving which is defined as “scientific diving” and which is under the direction and control of a diving program containing at least the following elements:

1. A diving safety manual which includes, at a minimum:

  • Procedures covering all diving operations specific to the program
  • Procedures for emergency care, including recompression and evacuation
  • Criteria for diver training and certification.

2. A diving control (safety) board, with the majority of its members being active divers, which shall at a minimum have the authority to:

  • Approve and monitor diving projects
  • Review and revise the diving safety manual
  • Assure compliance with the manual
  • Certify the depths to which a diver has been trained
  • Take disciplinary action for unsafe practices
  • Assure adherence to the buddy system (a diver is accompanied by and is in continuous contact with another diver in the water) for SCUBA diving.

To meet these requirements all divers and individual dives must be pre-approved through the NC State Diving Safety Officer. This section shall serve as the NC State Diving Safety Manual, providing minimum requirements for all University-related diving (see Scope section below).


This purpose of this program is to assure all scientific diving operations performed by employees of NC State are conducted safely and in compliance with applicable standards. A secondary objective is to permit more efficient / effective diving operations through enhanced communication with knowledgeable contacts inside and outside of the university, developed in response to these requirements.


This section applies to all diving operations conducted at NC State University, excluding diving instruction classes (usually administered in pools), which involves the use of underwater breathing apparatus.


Scientific Diving – diving performed solely as a necessary part of a scientific, research, or educational activity by employees whose sole purpose for diving is to perform scientific research tasks. Scientific diving does not include performing any tasks usually associated with commercial diving such as: Placing or removing heavy objects underwater; inspection of pipelines and similar objects; construction; demolition; cutting or welding; or the use of explosives.

Diving Safety Requirements

  1. Diver Medical Qualifications – All divers must have medical fitness for diving cleared by NC State Student Health Services and the NC State Diving Safety Officer.
  2. Diver Training and Certification – All divers shall be trained and certified through, or have training accepted and approved by, the NC State Diving Safety Officer.
  3. Procedures for Emergency Care – Prior to each dive, supervisors must assure that location-specific emergency care procedures are in place and understood by each diver. These procedures must include at a minimum, procedures for recompression and evacuation, which are partially addressed by a requirement for all divers to obtain insurance coverage through the Divers Alert Network (DAN).

These subjects will be covered in additional detail, along with other issues, through the pre-dive review by the diving safety officer.

General and Specific Procedures – Requirements for medical exams, insurance coverage, and dive specific procedures are either communicated herein or through diver / dive approval by the NC State Diving Safety Officer. It is important to make contact with the Diving Safety Officer at an early phase of your diving planning.


Supervisors / Principal Investigators – If you dive or supervise persons who dive….

  1. Review these requirements as well as any supplemental requirements referenced in this section.
  2. Assure that self and each employee reporting to them who dives:
    1. Meets the definition of a scientific diver.
    2. Has each dive reviewed and approved in advance by the NC State Diving Safety Officer or his/her designee .
    3. Has met initial and ongoing medical fitness requirements for diving
    4. Has met initial and ongoing training requirements for diving
    5. Has up-to-date insurance coverage through the Divers Alert Network (DAN).
    6. Has met any other program and dive specific requirements set forth by the NC State Diving Control Board and NC State Diving Safety Officer.

Diving Safety Officer

  1. Responsible for day-to-day implementation of the NC State Diving Safety Program.
  2. Approves divers
  3. Approves and monitors (as necessary) diving projects

Diving Control Board

  1. Develops / Approves / Updates content of NC State Diving Safety Manual
  2. Assists Diving Safety Officer as necessary with review and approval of diving safety projects.

View members of Diving Control Board

Marine Sciences Council

  1. Assist with communication of diving safety requirements to University community
  2. Assures fully functional diving control board is in place
  3. Assists / advises diving control board as necessary
  4. Assists diving control board with problem resolution

Environmental Health and Safety

  1. Participates as member of Diving Safety Board
  2. Assists with communication of diving safety requirements
  3. Assists Diving Control Board and Marine Sciences Council with problem resolution