Dive Professionals - Do you have Surface Support in place?

Tracey our Course Director under taking the role of Surface Support

As a working Dive Professional here in the UK you have to be aware of so much more than your agencies training standards, we are bound by the rules and regulations of other bodies such as Swim England and Health and Safety.
The Health and Safety – Diving at Work Regulations 1997, approved Code of Practise and Guidance.  This document covers both the instruction and guiding of people diving for recreational purposes where at least one person taking part is at work, for example as an instructor 

This regulation applies to all recreational diving projects within the 12-mile limit of territorial waters adjacent to Great Britain.

One of the rules is about the size of the dive team, so today we thought we would look at one of those specific roles – Surface Support or Surface Cover

What do the Regulations say?

​The regulations states that the absolute minimum team size for a dive using recreational techniques is three, one person on the surface and two in the water, so if you are working and do not have this then you AND the Diving Contractor are working outside of HSE.

The Diving Contractor is the Dive Centre OR the independent working instructor.
The Diving supervisor is an individual or individual(s) appointed by the Diving Contractor and should be in writing and covering that they are responsible for including but not limited to: -

  • To ensure dive goes properly
  • Legal
  • All requirements of Dive Centre owner are implemented and adhered to
  • Dives are logged properly
  • Equipment is safe to use
  • Ran within training agency standards

What is the Definition of Surface Support?

The definition of Surface Support is A person who does not have to be diver but should be familiar with the Dive plan and the arrangements for obtaining assistance in the event of an emergency

our Surface Support should be present throughout the time that an instructional team is in the water and ready and able to raise the alarm, if required OR assist with managing any dive incident.  
This means they should be 

  • Waterside for the entire time you have divers in the water – not wandering off for a cup of tea or coffee – eyes should be waterfront at all times.
  • Log divers in and out of the water via whatever logging system you choose
  • Have the means to raise the alarm in the event of an emergency
  • Know what the dive time and dive plan are
  • Hold some level of First aid qualification

How about making your students’ lives easier and provide some good quality customer care and have them assist your divers with

  • Kitting up waterside
  • Helping divers enter and exit the water

Q - I am not paid so therefore these rules do not apply to me?

This is a common response when professionals are questioned about not having surface support.   Even as a volunteer, if anyone is being paid by the student then you are 'at work' and HSE rules apply

Q - We do not need surface support as we are working at our local quarry?

Yes, you do, our inland quarries generally supply an emergency evacuation process for divers within their quarries but that is NOT surface support, and they are not obliged to offer an emergency service.

What does surface support look like at Dive Rutland?

Meet Sam, who is part of our Surface Support Team and the role that our Surface Support Team play in making our students lives easier as well as meeting all of our legal requirements.


V1.00 2/7/2021