The original regulation #634 came into effect in 1986 and outlined minimum standards for equipment, personnel and procedures. After a "settling in" period during which both the industry and M.O.L. ironed out definitions and interpretations of what was required it was mutually decided that further clarification and minor changes were needed to make enforcement and compliance easier and more fair and also to increase safety for the worker. A complete review of the regulation (renamed #848 in 1990) was undertaken with input from the M.O.L., C.S.A.O., hyperbaric medical representatives and major diving pic of diver companies including O.D.S. Marine. Several years and several drafts later we have an official amendment which is presently undergoing final review by legislative council for legal wording, etc. and is to be distributed and will be in effect for this coming season. All of the major requirements of the original regulation are still in place such as a three man minimum crew and the requirement to report each dive in advance to the M.O.L. and there are some minor and major changes to other sections.
Scuba Equipment For instance the rules regarding the use of S.C.U.B.A. diving (not surface supplied) now state that S.C.U.B.A. shall not be used when "diving operations involve active underwater intakes, entry into pipes and confined spaces, and in close proximity to water control structures; and handling materials underwater, hoisting, using underwater power tools handling underwater explosives, and conducting underwater burning and welding.".
Contaminated Diving As another example, the regulation now defines a contaminated environment as "a workplace that contains an apparent or known chemical, biological or radiological material in sufficient concentration that should any quantity of it be ingested, absorbed or inhaled, will likely endanger the health or safety of the worker" and requires the use of surface supplied diving with equipment such as "(i) a surface supplied diving helmet designed and suitable for such work, (ii) a totally enclosed non-permeable synthetic rubber or composite diving suit, (iii) a dive suit that mates to the helmet with a positive seal and locking device, (iv) a two-way voice communication system ". It also requires a minimum four man crew when conducting a contaminated dive.
Legal Responsibility Another area of importance to you, the owner/operator who hires the divers, is the requirement to ensure that the company you are using is following the regulation. Legally, the regulation puts an equal burden of responsibility on "employers, constructors and owners", all parties can be held liable and heavily fined for non-compliance and enforcement is getting tougher all the time. Ignorance of the law will not be a defence.
Hiring Practice When hiring a diving company, ask if they will be reporting the dive, if they are using a three or four man crew, if they have the required equipment, are they diving surface supplied, etc.. Aside from the regulation ask them if they have liability insurance and W.C.B. coverage for marine work? To protect yourself be sure you are hiring a bona fide diving company, don't wait until there is an accident to find out that they are not what you thought.
We at O.D.S. Marine welcome these changes as it helps to eliminate unfair competition, unqualified operators and assists us all in trying to maintain Ontario's excellent safety record.