Supervision must be provided for the diving activity being undertaken. Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) must ensure there are adequate numbers of workers able to undertake specific supervisory duties who:
- are competent to undertake their duties
- have the necessary health and fitness
- are properly equipped
- are trained both individually and as part of a team to undertake their duties at the specific dive or snorkel sites.
Supervision procedures should be developed in consultation with workers and should be documented along with the responsibilities of each appointed member of the dive team and associated workers, such as a vessel master. It is important that the PCBU provides induction and ongoing training, such as toolbox talks and emergency drills so that responsibilities are clearly allocated and the procedures to be followed are known to all parties.
On this page
- High risk diving work and general diving work
- Recreational diving
- Recreational technical divers
- Recreational snorkelling
High risk diving work and general diving work
The dive supervisor's role is crucial in ensuring that high risk diving work is undertaken safely and efficiently by continually monitoring dive site conditions and activities. They should also be able to minimise any developing risks. This includes the implementation and control of diving emergency procedures.
Appointments of dive supervisors should be made in writing. The appointment should define the scope of control of the dive supervisor. The scope of control should cover the duration of the appointment and should also specify the number of divers or dive teams being supervised.
A dive supervisor may supervise more than one diver at the same time. A dive supervisor may also work as a diver. More than one person may be appointed as a dive supervisor by a PCBU at a diving workplace. However at any given time when diving is taking place, one person should be clearly nominated as the dive supervisor for that dive.
For general diving work, although it is preferable that the dive supervisor remains on the surface at the dive site to supervise the diving work, circumstances may occur where the dive supervisor cannot perform these duties personally. In these circumstances the duties of the dive supervisor, such as making the dive plan, completing the dive safety log or counting those on board the vessel, may be delegated to other persons able to undertake those duties. However the appointed dive supervisor remains as the overall supervisor for the diving work being undertaken.
The PCBU should ensure that all parties are aware of their duties and that these are recorded on the dive plan. The PCBU should also ensure that there are systems in place to allow the dive supervisor to monitor any delegated duties.
At any recreational dive site, an appropriate number of workers should be available to undertake the duties of:
- Dive supervisor – should remain on the surface at the dive site to supervise dive operations before during and after diving. Dive supervisors should be able to instruct and advise divers, recognise risks from diver's abilities and behaviour and recognise environmental risks and hazards. They should be able identify emergency situations and ensure they are responded to effectively.
- Rescuer – must be able to immediately undertake a rescue
- First aid and oxygen provider – must be able to immediately give first aid and oxygen
- Lookout- must be positioned where they can see the whole area and be solely engaged in being the lookout. For example they may move about the dive site while continuing to observe the area but must not undertake other tasks that prevent them undertaking their duties such as cleaning dive equipment. Lookouts must be able to communicate with other workers and direct or undertake rescues and give first aid if required.
An assessment should be undertaken to determine the number of workers needed to fulfil these duties. For example on beach dive where one dive instructor is teaching a single class, a single competent worker may remain on the surface to undertake the duties of dive supervisor, lookout, rescuer and first aid providers. In larger or more complex workplaces, more workers may be required. Particular consideration must be given to ensuring a dedicated lookout is available and that an effective and efficient response can be undertaken in an emergency.
Resort divers must be supervised at all times by either:
- a dive instructor – maximum 4:1 ratio
- an instructor working with a certified assistant- maximum 6:2 ratio.
These are maximum ratios and should be reduced when:
- the resort diver's fitness, ability or confidence levels are not good (e.g. with non-English speaking divers)
- environmental conditions are not good (e.g. poor underwater visibility, currents or rough surface conditions).
Separation of resort divers from their instructors is a critical risk and has been the cause of several fatal incidents. Dive instructors and assistants must be able to immediate physical contact with, and assist, any resort diver throughout the dive, including surface swims. Swimming in Indian file without workers at each end is prohibited.
Techniques for dive instructors to minimise the risk of separation include:
- holding hands or linking arms
- having divers swim alongside rather than behind
- swimming facing backwards
- using a stop/start technique (most separations occur during longer underwater swims)
- staying close to entry/exit points
- using certified assistants
- using other divers such as trainee dive workers or photographers.
Dive training agency supervision standards should be strictly followed.
Entry level certificate diving
Entry level certificate divers must be supervised at all times by:
- a dive instructor – maximum 8:1 ratio OR
- an instructor working with a certified assistant- maximum 10:2 ratio.
These are maximum ratios and should be reduced when the abilities of the trainees or conditions are poor.
Dive instructors and assistants must be able to assist, any trainee diver throughout the dive.
Dive training agency supervision standards should be strictly followed.
Certificated divers should be assessed before diving with regard to their:
- medical fitness
- skills and experience relevant to the dive conditions.
If there are doubts as to the competence of the diver to complete a particular dive, a certified assistant or dive instructor should accompany the diver on that dive or an assessment dive should be undertaken.
A documented risk management process (PDF, 107.36 KB) for certificated diver assessment is available for your use.
Recreational dive workers
Recreational dive workers should not dive alone (solo diving) without appropriate equipment or training.
Recreational technical diving
The same general supervisory requirements for recreational diving on air apply to recreational technical diving. In addition, when diving using enriched air nitrox (EANx), the EANx dive supervisor should supervise the correct assembly and testing of the equipment.
For decompression diving, the dive supervisor should be aware of each team's dive plan and calculated gas consumption requirements for the dive.
Dive training agency supervision standards should be followed for all recreational technical diving training.
The same general supervisory requirements for recreational diving generally apply to snorkelling. If a snorkelling guide takes groups of snorkellers on guided tours, an assessment may be undertaken regarding the risks of conducting snorkelling without a lookout. In this instance, a guide may be used in place of a lookout for groups of 10 or less snorkellers.
A snorkelling guide must supervise the snorkelling tour, including identifying people in distress and emerging hazards. Guides must be able to communicate with other workers and direct or undertake rescues and give first aid if required.
Snorkel safety – a guide for workers (PDF, 3374.94 KB) is available for your use which details the roles and responsibilities for all snorkelling workers.
- Last updated
- 05 December 2016
New Code of Practice now in force
The new Recreational Diving and Snorkelling Code of Practice commenced on 8 February 2018.