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Commercial Diving Safety

Safe At Work Ontario
  • Issued: September 2011
  • Revised: January 2016
  • Content last reviewed: January 2016

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.

Injuries sustained by commercial divers are usually fatal. A lack of operational and contingency planning is often the root cause of diving accidents. Divers are at risk if hazards are not identified and adequately handled, and if emergency management measures and procedures are not in place.

Some general duties of workplace parties


The Diving Regulation requires every employer, owner and constructor associated with a diving operation to prepare operational and contingency plans, in writing, with input from one or more of the appointed diving supervisors.

The written operational plan must:

  • describe the dive tasks and how they are to be performed; and
  • state how potential hazards are to be identified and handled.

The written contingency plan should include site-specific measures and procedures to manage a diving emergency. For example, the plan should include provisions for:

  • dive crew training in administering 100 per cent oxygen therapy to an injured diver;
  • sufficient oxygen to be available at the dive site to provide 100 per cent oxygen therapy to an injured diver until medical assistance arrives;
  • availability of an adequate first aid kit;
  • adequate equipment to facilitate immediate removal of an unconscious diver from the water;
  • making suitable arrangements for evacuating an injured diver to an appropriate medical facility; and
  • on-site effective two-way voice communications with emergency services.


The duties of diving supervisors under the Diving Regulation include, but are not limited to:

  • ensuring that the operational and contingency plans are followed;
  • briefing the workers associated with the diving operation on the operational and contingency plans and procedures; and
  • ensuring that each diver is competent and fit to perform the work.


Divers have duties under the Diving Regulation that include, but are not limited to:

  • understanding the operational plan and the contingency plan;
  • being aware of hazards that could be encountered at the dive site;
  • not being fatigued or impaired; and
  • reporting to their supervisor if they are unfit to dive.

Protecting workers

Owners, constructors, employers and diving supervisors all have responsibilities for the safety of divers and other workplace parties. There are many factors to consider for safe diving practices. Here are some additional requirements from the Diving Regulation:

  • An employer must ensure that every person who participates in a diving operation meets the applicable competency requirements set out in CSA Standard Z275.4-12. [section 4.1(2)]
  • An employer must ensure that all divers, dive supervisors and at least one diver’s tender are certified in first aid, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and oxygen administration. [section 33]
  • The employer, constructor and owner must ensure that a water control facility within one kilometre of the dive site is notified of the diving operation, generally at least 24 hours before it begins. [section 9(1)(c)]
  • Employers and the diving supervisor must ensure that all diving equipment to be used in the diving operation is adequate. [section 15(1)]
  • Employers and the diving supervisor must ensure that any oxygen supply system used in the diving operation meets the requirements of CSA Standard Z275.2-11 [section 31]
  • The owner, the employer and the diving supervisor must ensure that any hazardous water flow is identified and is locked-out or controlled so that it poses no safety hazard to the diver. [section 54(2)]
  • The diving supervisor must ensure that the dive site is equipped with an adequate first aid kit, an oxygen system capable of administering 100 per cent oxygen to an injured diver until medical assistance arrives and an adequate two-way communication system connecting the dive site with medical assistance. [section 17(2)]
  • The diving supervisor must ensure that the dive site has adequate means of entry and exit for divers, to and from the water, and also that there is an adequate means of immediately recovering an unconscious diver from the water. [section 17(2)], and
  • The diving supervisor must ensure that diving is not conducted in hazardous water flow conditions. [section 54(1)].

Contact the Ministry of Labour

Call 1-877-202-0008 anytime to report workplace health and safety incidents or for general inquiries about health and safety at the workplace.

Ministry of Labour Regional Dive Offices

Eastern Region

347 Preston Street, 4th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1S 3J4
Tel: 613-228-8050 ext.3055
Toll-free: 1-800-267-1916
Fax: 613-727-2900

Western Region

119 King Street West, 13th Floor
Hamilton, ON L8P 4Y7
Tel: 905-577-6221
Toll-free: 1-800-263-6906
Fax: 905-577-1324

217 York Street, 5th Floor
London, ON N6A 5P9
Tel: 519-439-2210
Toll-free: 1-800-265-1676
Fax: 519-672-0268

4510 Rhodes Drive, Suite 610
Windsor, ON N8W 5K5
Tel: 519-256-8277
Toll-free: 1-800-265-5140
Fax: 519-258-1321

Northern Region

159 Cedar Street, Suite 301
Sudbury, ON P3E 6A5
Tel: 705-564-7306 ext. 47306
Toll-free: 1-800-461-6325
Fax: 705-564-7437

Central Region

17345 Leslie Street, Unit 102
Newmarket, ON L3Y 9A3
Tel: 905-953-3999
Toll-free: 1-888-299-3138
Fax: 905-715-7609

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