Section 1.00 – General Policy


1.11  The MBL Diving Standards

The purpose of these diving standards is to ensure that all diving under the auspices of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is conducted in a manner that will maximize protection of divers from accidental injury and/or illness, and to set forth standards for training and certification which will allow a working reciprocity between the MBL and other organizations. Fulfillment of these purposes shall be consistent with the furtherance of safety.

This manual has been developed and written with the assistance of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences which compiled the policies set forth in the diving manuals of several university, private and governmental diving programs. These programs share a common heritage with the diving program at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO). Adherence to the SIO standards has proven both feasible and effective in protecting the health and safety of divers since 1954.

Additional standards which extend this manual may be adopted by each campus, according to local procedures.

1.12  Scientific Diving Definition

Scientific diving is defined (29 CFR 1910.402) as diving performed solely as a necessary part of a scientific, research, or educational activity by employees whose sole purpose for diving is to perform scientific research tasks.

1.13  Scientific Diving Exemption

OSHA has granted an exemption for scientific diving from commercial diving regulations under the following guidelines (Appendix B to Subpart T):

1.13.1  The Diving Control Board consists of a majority of active scientific divers and has autonomous and absolute authority over the scientific diving program’s operation.

1.13.2  The purpose of the project using scientific diving is the advancement of science; therefore, information and data resulting from the project are non-proprietary.

1.13.3  The tasks of a scientific diver are those of an observer and data gatherer. Construction and trouble-shooting tasks traditionally associated with commercial diving are not included within scientific diving.

1.13.4 Scientific divers, based on the nature of their activities, must use scientific expertise in studying the underwater environment and therefore, are scientists or scientists-in-training.

1.13.5 In addition, the scientific diving program shall contain at least the following: Diving safety manual which includes at a minimum: Procedures covering all diving operations specific to the program; including procedures for emergency care, recompression and evacuation; and the criteria for diver training and certification. Diving control (safety) board, with the majority of its members being active scientific divers, which shall at a minimum have the authority to: approve and monitor diving projects, review and revise the diving safety manual, assure compliance with the manual, certify the depths to which a diver has been trained, take disciplinary action for unsafe practices, and assure adherence to the buddy system (a diver is accompanied by and is in continuous contact with another diver in the water) for scuba diving.

1.14 Liability

In adopting the policies set forth in this manual, the MBL assumes no liability not otherwise imposed by law. Outside of those university employees diving in the course of their employment, each diver is assumed under this policy to be voluntarily performing activities for which he/she assumes all risks, consequences and potential liability.

1.15 Review of Standards

As part of each campusÍ annual report, any recommendations for modifications of these standards shall be submitted to the Office of the Chancellor for consideration.


1.21 The MBL Auspices Defined

For the purposes of these standards the auspices of the MBL includes any operation in which the university is connected because of ownership of any equipment used, locations selected or relationship with the individual(s) concerned This includes all cases involving the operations of employees of the MBL or employees of auxiliary organizations, where such employees are acting within the scope of their employment, and the operations of students and other persons who are engaged in authorized activities of the university or are diving as members of a university recognized organization.

1.22 MBL’s Scientific Diving Standards and Safety Manual

Each campus shall develop and maintain a diving safety manual which provides for the development and implementation of policies and procedures that will enable each campus to meet requirements of local environments and conditions as well as to comply with the MBL diving standards and the AAUS scientific diving standards. The campus diving standards shall include, but not be limited to:

1.22.1 A copy of these standards.

1.22.2 Emergency evacuation and medical treatment procedures.

1.22.3 The criteria for diver training and certification.

1.22.4 Standards written or adopted by reference for each diving mode utilized which include the following: Safety procedures for the diving operation. Responsibilities of the dive team members. Equipment use and maintenance procedures. Emergency procedures.

1.23 The Diving Safety Officer

The Diving Safety Officer (DSO) serves as a member of the Diving Control Board. This person should have broad technical and scientific expertise in research related diving.

1.23.1 Qualifications  Shall be appointed by the responsible administrative officer or his/her designee, with the advice and counsel of the Diving Control Board. Shall be trained as a scientific diver. Shall be a member of the AAUS. Shall be certified as a scuba diving instructor or have equivalent diving supervisory experience.

1.23.2 Duties and Responsibilities Shall be responsible, through the Diving Control Board, to the responsible administrative officer or his/her designee, for the conduct of the scientific diving program of the campus. The routine operational authority for this program, including the conduct of training and certification, approval of dive plans, maintenance of diving records, and ensuring compliance with this manual and all relevant regulations of the campus, rests with the Diving Safety Officer. May permit portions of this program to be carried out by a qualified delegate, although the Diving Safety Officer may not delegate responsibility for the safe conduct of the local diving program.  Shall be guided in the performance of the required duties by the advice of the Diving Control Board, but operational responsibility for the conduct of the local diving program will be retained by the Diving Safety Officer.  Shall suspend diving operations which he/she considers to be unsafe or unwise.

1.24 The Diving Control Board

1.24.1  The Diving Control Board (DCB) shall consist of a majority of active scientific divers. Voting members shall include the Diving Safety Officer, the responsible administrative officer, or his/her designee, and should include other representatives of the diving program such as qualified divers and members selected by procedures established by each campus. A chairperson and a secretary may be chosen from the membership of the board according to local procedure.

1.24.2  Has autonomous and absolute authority over the diving program’s operation.

1.24.3  Shall approve and monitor diving projects.

1.24.4  Shall review and revise the diving safety manual.

1.24.5  Shall assure compliance with the manual.

1.24.6  Shall certify the depths to which a diver has been trained.

1.24.7  Shall take disciplinary action for unsafe practices.

1.24.8  Shall assure adherence to the buddy system for scuba diving.

1.24.9  Shall act as the official representative of the campus in matters concerning the diving program.

1.24.10  Shall act as a board of appeal to consider diver-related problems.

1.24.11  Shall recommend the issue, reissue, or the revocation of diving certifications.

1.24.12  Shall recommend changes in policy and amendments to the Office of the Chancellor concerning the campus diving manual as the need arises.

1.24.13  Shall establish and/or approve training programs through which the applicants for certification can satisfy the requirements of the campus diving safety manual.

1.24.14  Shall suspend diving programs which it considers to be unsafe or unwise.

1.24.15  Shall establish criteria for equipment selection and use.

1.24.16  Shall recommend new equipment or techniques.

1.24.17  Shall establish and/or approve facilities for the inspection and maintenance of diving and associated equipment.

1.24.18  Shall ensure that the campusÍ air station(s) meet air quality standards as described in Sec. 3.60 of this manual.

1.24.19 Shall periodically review the Diving Safety Officer’s performance and program.

1.24.20  Shall sit as a board of investigation to inquire into the nature and cause of diving accidents or violations of the campusÍ diving manual.

1.25 Instructional Personnel

1.25.1 Qualifications

All personnel involved in diving instruction under the auspices of the MBL shall be qualified for the type of instruction being given.

1.25.2 Selection

Instructional personnel will be selected by the responsible administrative officer, or his/her designee, who will solicit the advice of the Diving Control Board in conducting preliminary screening of applicants for instructional positions.

1.26 Lead Diver

For each dive, one individual shall be designated as the Lead Diver. He/she shall be at the dive location during the diving operation. The Lead Diver shall be responsible for:

1.26.1 Coordination with other known activities in the vicinity which are likely to interfere with diving operations.

1.26.2 Ensuring all dive team members possess current certification and are qualified for the type of diving operation.

1.26.3  Planning dives in accordance with section 2.21

1.26.4 Ensuring safety and emergency equipment is in working order and at the dive site.

1.26.5 Briefing the dive team members on: Dive objectives. Unusual hazards or environmental conditions likely to affect the safety of the diving operation. Modifications to diving or emergency procedures necessitated by the specific diving operation.

1.26.6 Suspending diving operations if in his/her opinion conditions are not safe.

1.26.7 Reporting to the DSO and Diving Control Board any physical problems or adverse physiological effects including symptoms of pressure-related injuries.

1.27 Reciprocity And Visiting Divers

1.27.1 Two or more organizations engaged jointly in diving activities, or engaged jointly in the use of diving resources, shall designate one of the participating Diving Control Boards to govern the joint dive project.

1.27.2 A diver from any other organization shall apply for permission to dive under the auspices of a MBL campus by submitting to the Diving Safety Officer of the host campus a document containing all the information described in Appendix 8. (letter of reciprocity) signed by the Diving Safety Officer or Chairperson of the home Diving Control Board.

1.27.3 A visiting diver may be asked to demonstrate his/her knowledge and skills for the planned diving. An example of items to be demonstrated is presented in Appendix 9 (checkout dive).

1.27.4 If a MBL campus denies a visiting diver permission to dive, the host Diving Control Board shall notify the visiting diver and his/her Diving Control Board with an explanation of all reasons for the denial.

1.28 Waiver of Requirements

The Diving Control Board may grant a waiver for specific requirements of training, examinations, depth certification, and minimum activity to maintain certification.

1.29 Consequence of Violation of Regulations by Divers

Failure to comply with the regulations of the campus diving manual may be cause for the revocation or restriction of the diver’s certificate by action of the Diving Control Board.


Failure to comply with the regulations of this standard may be cause for the revocation or restriction of the campus diving program recognition by the AAUS.


The Diving Safety Officer or his/her designee shall maintain permanent records for each individual diver certified by the Diving Control Board. The file shall include evidence of certification level, log sheets, results of current physical examination, waiver, reports of disciplinary actions by the Diving Control Board, and other pertinent information deemed necessary.

1.40.1 Availability of Records: Medical records shall be available to the attending physician of a diver or former diver when released in writing by the diver. Records and documents required by this standard shall be retained by the campus for the following period: Physician’s written reports of medical examinations for divers – 5 years. Manual for diving safety – current document only. Records of dive – 1 year, except 5 years where there has been an incident of pressure-related injury. Pressure-related injury assessment – 5 years. Equipment inspection and testing records – current entry or tag, or until equipment is withdrawn from service.