Commercial diving has been considered a major accident hazard by both Oil & Gas and renewable energy industry players. This means that when things go wrong and accidents happen, there is a high potential for one or more team member deaths. Here are the top seven major safety hazards you need to be aware of. 

1. Atypical working conditions

First and foremost, commercial divers work underwater, making their working conditions vastly different compared to what most of us are used to. The most apparent risk here is that of drowning. Aside from that, divers can suffer from decompression sickness if they have to dive very deeply or are underwater for too long. They can experience cold or heat exhaustion depending on the temperature of the water and how active they are in their work over longer stints of time underwater.

The conditions of the ocean itself can also make commercial divers’ jobs more challenging due to reduced visibility, high currents, bad weather, and poor communication and limited support while underwater.    

2. Not having enough air or breathing gas

Of course, commercial divers need to be able to breathe underwater for long periods of time. Their air or breathing gas is supplied to them via an umbilical cord that draws its life-giving oxygen either directly from the surface or from a diving bell. 

3. Living (literally) under pressure

The longer a diver has been underwater and the deeper they have to work, the more carefully they have to be brought to the surface. This needs to be done responsibly and conscientiously. When under this kind of pressure, with the weight of the water above pressing down on you, gas is absorbed by the body. The return to the surface, then, has to be slow and careful so the diver doesn’t suffer the bends, which can cause dizziness, paralysis, unconsciousness and even death. Divers may need time in a decompression chamber when they get to the surface to be extra sure their health isn’t being risked. 

4. Working in close proximity to remotely operated vehicles

Commercial divers often work closely with remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) because they help the divers get their tasks done more quickly and safely. Even though a ROV can mitigate many commercial diving safety risks, it is also possible for a diver to be injured by an ROV. Therefore, risks assessments need to be conducted and safety measures put in place before sending an ROV out with your diving team. 

5. Often-unrecognised ship husbandry risks

Working alongside sometimes-massive vessels can definitely go wrong for divers, especially if the diving operator and vessel captain have not briefed each other before work begins. This kind of inadequate communication can result in divers being seriously hurt by thrusters and suction intakes being turned on while they are working close by. In fact, the safest way to avoid this happening is for everyone on board to know what’s happening, rather than just the captain. 

6. The complexity of confined spaces

Works that need to be performed in confined spaces are far more hazardous than open-water commercial diving commissions. These hazards can be escalated by bad weather conditions above water, a lack of safe access and egress to the work-site, and the difficulties of recovering an injured diver from the confined area. Risks need to be extensively assessed and full control measures need to be put in place before divers are sent down. 

7. Limited medical assistance

If an accident should occur, commercial divers may be far away from hospitals and fully-equipped emergency services. Even if there are medics nearby, divers will be unable to receive even the most basic medical assistance until they are ready to come out of the decompression chamber. 

If you want to mitigate commercial diving risks, and any other risks associated with this service, you need to choose a commercial diving partner who understands diving work fully. By choosing OSC Marine, you can rest assured that, in addition to this, local and industry guidelines will be adhered to and established good practices will be carried out. 

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