Why do all UK Dive operations HAVE to have Surface Support in place?

Here in the UK all Dive Centres and Dive professionals must work under the Training Frameworks of their chosen training agencies as well as the Health and Safety Executive 

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.

Health and Safety Definition of Surface Support

Where Surface Support is concerned, The Health and Safety Executive say that when a dive professional is working in open water and in the water, that the minimum training dive team should be three, consisting of Surface Support, The Instructor and a Certified Assistant. 

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

This person 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.

Dive Professionals

To those Dive professionals who continue to work here in the UK without ANY surface support in please please be aware of the following that was emailed out by Dive Master Insurance in their September 2021 Newsletter

Recreational diving and Surface Watch and The Diving at Work Regulations 1997

From time to time as the leading insurer of the Dive Trade in the UK we notice trends in terms of the nature of enquiries we receive from our Trade clients. In recent times we’ve received enquiries from some trade clients regarding their obligations to ensure surface watch is in place for recreational diving services for qualified divers undertaking further training.

First and foremost we must reiterate that our coverages are provided one the basis that insureds do not deliberately breach local law and jurisdiction for the activity of Recreational diving. As you will all know in the UK this is currently The Diving at Work Regulations 1997, with most of you operating within the recreational diving Approved Code of Practice (ACop), or some of the other ACoPs depending on the risk declared.

Recreational diving will generally only “fall within these Regulations when an instructor is being employed to dive in order to teach students, or where an appropriately qualified diver is employed to guide a dive party”. So in short whether the instructor is providing a DSD, guided dive, Open Water course or advanced technical diving course the same ACoP applies, and in all instances a surface watch is required. This is clearly stated in section 47 of the ACoP.

47 The absolute minimum team size for a dive using recreational techniques is three, one person on the surface and two in the water. The acceptability of this number must be based on the risk assessment and diving project plan. One of these three people should be the supervisor. The supervisor is normally the most experienced and well-qualified diver in the team and in a team of three will normally be leading the dive underwater.

It is important to remember that under section 49 the role of the surface watch is defined as follows.

49 The person on the surface does not have to be someone able to dive but they should be familiar with the diving project plan and the arrangements for obtaining assistance in the event of an emergency.

The above advice is based on the current HSE ACoP and it is important that you regularly review this to ensure your compliance. Failing to comply with The Diving at Work Regulations 1997 could both increase unnecessary risk to your Employees and clients and potentially invalidate your insurance.

Dive Rutland Surface Support

  • Is a core member of the Dive Rutland team contributing to the onsite Risk Assessment undertaken at the beginning of each training dive day;
  • Keeps assessing and updating the risk assessment throughout the Dive Day, reporting to the on-site Dive Rutland in charge instructor if things change;
  • Assists with divers whilst they are kitting up and at the end of the day de-kitting, entering and exiting the water;
  • Logs divers in and out of the water. They are the person that EVERY dive team member reports to (including the instructors). The details that they collate include the expected dive time and the overall dive plan. Then, on exiting the water, they are met by the Surface Support, report back and are checked in, and provide all the required information, which is then recorded on the Dive Log.
  • The surface support member Is easily identifiable as they wear an Orange Dive Rutland Surface Support Vest.
  • They stay at the water’s edge until the team have successfully left the surface and then may if required, relocate to a point where maximum visibility of the dive site can be achieved whilst the dive teams are in the water, returning to the waters edge in readiness for the dive teams expected return. This is so they can provide ANY required support to the in-water team, including actioning the Emergency Action Plan.
  • They hold an in-date Emergency Primary and Secondary First Aid Certificate.​
Dive Rutland Surface Support Vest

Just one more GREAT reason you should learn and train with us here at Dive Rutland, your safety and comfort is important to us