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Diving and snorkelling laws

In order to understand the workplace health and safety requirements for diving and your obligations under the law you must understand relevant Acts, regulations and codes of practice.

Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) and other duty holders, such as workers, must comply with duties contained in Acts and Regulations.

Codes of practice offer practical advice to PCBUs and workers about what is reasonably practicable to meet duties and to make diving a healthier and safer activity. You should comply with a code of practice. However, you may adopt other processes and methods that are more suited to your business or work activity as long as they give the same level of protection against the risk.

The diving specific regulations and codes may not outline every risk at your workplace (e.g. electrical safety and manual tasks risks). So you must ensure you are familiar with all relevant regulations and codes. General advice on risk management can be found in How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks Code of Practice 2011  (PDF, 1018.6 KB) .

High risk diving work and general diving work

To understand your duties and safety requirements you must be familiar with the:

  • Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (PDF, 833 KB) (the WHS Act), which imposes duties on people at workplaces to ensure health and safety, incident notification and other enforcement matters.
  • Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (PDF, 2.53 MB) (the WHS Regulation), which describes what must be done to prevent or control certain hazards which cause injury, illness or death. Part 4.8 gives advice specific to diving work.
  • Occupational Diving Work Code of Practice 2005  (PDF, 185.2 KB) can help a PCBU identify what control measures need to be implemented to ensure the health and safety of divers and others at the workplace. It applies to both general diving work and high risk diving work.

For general diving work, the regulation requires that:

  • divers are medically fit to dive
  • divers and dive supervisors are competent
  • dive supervisors are appointed and undertake certain duties
  • a written risk assessment is made
  • a dive plan is made and followed for the dive
  • a dive safety log is kept for each dive
  • people on board a vessel are counted before departure.

A compliance checklist  (DOC, 104.5 KB) for self assessments of general diving work is available for your use.

For high risk diving work the regulation requires that:

A compliance checklist  (DOC, 93 KB) for self assessments of high risk diving work is available for your use.

The code of practice contains specific advice on:

  • risk assessment, including risks from vessels
  • equipment required, including breathing gas quality
  • decompression management
  • emergency plans, rescue, first aid and oxygen provision
  • log keeping.

Recreational diving, recreational technical diving and snorkelling work

If you are a PCBU conducting a recreational water activity for other persons and the activity includes diving or snorkelling, then you must be familiar with:

  • Safety in Recreational Water Activities Act 2011 (PDF,404 KB)(the SRWA Act) which imposes duties on people at workplaces to ensure the health and safety of other persons, including clients, is not affected by the conduct of the recreational water activity. It also addresses incident notification and other enforcement matters.
    Note: Diving work undertaken by recreational dive workers (e.g. dive masters or dive instructors) is general diving work. The requirements for general diving work (see above) apply to diving work undertaken by these workers.
  • Safety in Recreational Water Activities Regulation 2011 (PDF, 359 KB) (the SRWA Regulation) describes what must be done to prevent or control certain hazards which can cause injury, illness or death.

The regulation requires that:

  • counts are made for all persons on vessels
  • resort divers and entry level divers are medically assessed
  • lookouts (and/or guides for snorkellers), rescuers and first aid facilities are provided
  • resort divers are adequately supervised underwater
  • a dive safety log is kept.
  • snorkellers are given advice about medical conditions.

The Recreational Diving, Recreational Technical Diving and Snorkelling Code of Practice 2011  (PDF, 413.64 KB) provides guidance for PCBUs to identify what control measures need to be implemented to ensure the health and safety of persons undertaking recreational diving and snorkelling activities at the workplace.

For recreational, recreational technical diving and snorkelling, the code gives specific advice on:

  • counts that are made for all persons on vessels
  • emergency plans, rescue, first aid and oxygen provision
  • risk assessment, including risks from vessels, jellyfish stings and entry and exit from the water
  • medical fitness
  • supervision of divers
  • skills and knowledge of divers
  • instruction and advice to non-English speakers
  • equipment required, including breathing gas quality
  • decompression management
  • log keeping.

For recreational technical diving, the code gives specific advice on:

  • diving using enriched air nitrox (EANx) - including rebreathers
  • diving using mixed gas- including rebreathers
  • decompression diving.

A compliance checklist  (DOC, 438.5 KB) for self assessments of recreational diving, recreational technical diving and snorkelling is available for your use.

Last updated
05 December 2016

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