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eTools Home :Hurricane eMatrix Credits
 
Restoration of Maritime Infrastructure and Water-Related Activities
Diving and Diver-Support Operations
List of Activity Sheets
    Photo courtesy of OSHA.  This picture shows actual disaster site work conditions and may not illustrate proper safety and health procedures.
Activity Description
  • This activity sheet is for commercial divers and those who support and supervise them.
  • For some operations or situations (e.g., vessel operations) other activity sheets also apply; see related activity sheets below.
  • Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005) affected many structures (e.g., bridges, oil rigs, levees) that will require divers to make assessments and repairs underwater. Divers may also be called upon to mark and retrieve underwater objects and hurricane victims.
  • Response and recovery workers conducting this operation may be employed by Federal, State, local, and private employers. Review How to Use This Matrix in the introduction for a discussion of how this information may apply to different workers.

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About the Activity Sheet

This activity sheet does not provide an in-depth analysis of OSHA standards and regulations and cannot address all hazards. It does not increase or diminish any OSHA requirement or employer obligation under those requirements. It is intended as a guide and quick reference for employers and response and recovery workers. The Matrix captures major activities involved in hurricane response and recovery, highlights many of the hazards associated with them, and recommends beneficial work practices, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other exposure control methods. Employers must evaluate the specific hazards associated with the job/operation at the site where the work is being performed.

Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their workers. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health.

The Hazard Exposure and Risk Assessment Matrix for Hurricane Response and Recovery Work provides a general overview of particular topics related to current OSHA standards. It does not alter or determine compliance responsibilities in OSHA standards or the
Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, or the equivalent State Plan standards and requirements. Because interpretations and enforcement policy may change over time, you should consult current OSHA/State Plan administrative interpretations and decisions by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and the courts for additional guidance on OSHA compliance requirements. Employers should modify their procedures as appropriate when additional, relevant information becomes available.

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General Recommendations

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices. See general recommendations document.

Personal Protective Equipment. The general PPE is recommended for all response/recovery tasks/operations; only the additional PPE that may be needed for a specific hazard is noted below.

General PPE includes:
  • Hard hat for overhead impact or electrical hazards
  • Eye protection with side shields
  • Gloves chosen for job hazards expected (e.g., heavy-duty leather work gloves for handling debris with sharp edges and/or chemical protective gloves appropriate for chemicals potentially contacted)
  • ANSI-approved protective footwear
  • Respiratory protection as necessary-N, R, or P95, filtering facepieces may be used for nuisance dusts (e.g., dried mud, dirt and silt) and mold (except mold remediation). Filters with a charcoal layer may be used for odors

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Recommendations Specific to Hazards Associated with Diving and Diver-Support Operations


DIVING OPERATIONS (SCUBA, SURFACE SUPPLIED DIVING)

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices
    Photo courtesy of FEMA.  This picture shows actual disaster site work conditions and may not illustrate proper safety and health procedures.
  • Ensure that each diver has the necessary experience and/or training to perform the assigned task
  • Provide divers and tenders with a briefing on the tasks, safety procedures, unusual hazards or environmental conditions, and modifications made to standard operating procedures.  If divers will enter potentially contaminated waters, SOPs should address the potential chemical contaminants
  • Tend divers continuously while they are in the water
  • When divers are in the water, ensure that a standby diver is available when required
  • Establish and maintain two-way voice communications between diver and diver support throughout the dive
  • Primary breathing gas supplies shall support divers for the duration of the planned dive including decompression
  • Divers shall carry a reserve breathing gas supply while SCUBA diving
  • Supplied respirable air must contain less than:
    • 20 ppm Carbon Monoxide
    • 1000 ppm Carbon Dioxide
    • 5mg/m3 oil mist
    • and must not have a noxious or pronounced odor
  • Station a diver at the underwater point of entry when diving is conducted in enclosed or physically confining spaces
  • Terminate the dive when the diver requests it, if the diver fails to respond correctly, or when the diver begins to use reserve breathing gas
  • Use certified air tanks, sources of dive-breathing air, and approved body suits
  • Ensure that any airline systems used provide uncontaminated air (e.g., keep the systems away from sources of generator or engine exhaust)
  • Ensure that dive boats and on-shore locations display the diver-down flag whenever divers are in the water
  • Ensure that all divers and their equipment are decontaminated (fresh water shower/rinse at minimum) upon completion of dive operations

Additional Personal Protective Equipment
  • Emergency source of breathing air

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VESSEL AND BARGE OPERATIONS

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices
  • Comply with Coast Guard manning and safety equipment regulations (e.g., licensed/qualified staff based on size and service of the vessel, personal floatation devices, lifeboats, flares, charts for area of operation) applicable to the commercial operation of the vessel, including those related to vessel inspections (see Other Resources and References)
  • Ensure that vessels used to pull or push other platforms (e.g., barges) are of suitable design and horsepower
  • Take extra care when navigating because landmarks, navigational aids, and underwater hazards may have shifted.  Also look for overhead hazards from tree limbs, hanging power lines, and other debris that may fall and/or strike response and recovery workers
  • Use buoys or transponders to mark locations of submerged materials
  • Do not allow workers to pass fore, aft, over, and around barge decks unless there is a walkway or another means for safe passage
  • Provide fall protection if individuals must stand at an outboard or inboard edge without sufficient bulwark, rail, coaming or other protection
  • See Deep Water Work/Boating Operations activity sheet

Additional Personal Protective Equipment
  • Coast Guard-approved Type I or II personal floatation devices

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LIVEBOATING

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices
  • Stop the propeller before the diver enters or exits the water
  • Use a device to minimize the diver's hose from becoming entangled in the propeller

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SUPPORT TEAM WORKING ON, OVER, OR NEAR WATER

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices
  • Use additional protections, such as a lifesaving skiff and a ring buoy, as appropriate
  • Do not allow workers to pass fore, aft, over, between, and around barge decks unless there is a walkway or another means for safe passage
  • Provide fall protection if individuals must stand at an outboard or inboard edge without sufficient bulwark, rail, coaming or other protection

Additional Personal Protective Equipment
  • Coast Guard-approved Type I or II personal floatation devices

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EXPOSURE TO CONTAMINATED WATER AND/OR FLOODWATERS

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices
    Photo courtesy of OSHA.  This picture shows actual disaster site work conditions and may not illustrate proper safety and health procedures.
  • When a contaminated-water splash hazard is present (e.g., when divers are entering the water, when recovering submerged objects or debris), keep non-essential response and recovery workers away from the splash-hazard zone
  • Ensure that good hygiene, especially hand washing, is practiced before eating, drinking, and smoking.  If clean water is not available, use an alternative such as hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes
  • Ensure that cuts and bruises are protected from contact with contaminated water
  • Clean areas of the body that come in contact with contaminated water with soap and water, hand sanitizer, or sanitizing wipes
  • Ensure that divers and their equipment are decontaminated (fresh water shower/rinse at minimum) upon completion of dive operations

Additional Personal Protective Equipment
  • Goggles if routinely working near splashing floodwater
  • N, R, or P95 respirators may be necessary for exposure to contaminated water that may become aerosolized
  • Watertight boots with steel toe and insoles
  • Waterproof gloves for contact with contaminated water

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STRUCTURAL INSTABILITY

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices
  • Divers should exercise extreme care when entering structures that might have been damaged; station a diver at the underwater point of entry when diving is conducted in enclosed or physically confining spaces
  • Every effort should be made to assess structural integrity from outside the structure
  • Install temporary structural support adequate to protect divers as needed

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UNDERWATER POWER TOOL USE

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices
  • Inspect power tool condition and verify operation of safety features before use
  • Lower power tools to the diver upon request
  • Ensure that power tools are de-energized before they are placed in or retrieved from the water

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DISCOVERY OF HUMAN OR ANIMAL REMAINS

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices
  • Use a float/buoy to mark the remains
  • Contact public health/mortuary personnel regarding removal-and-custody operations

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DISCOVERY OF UNKNOWN CHEMICALS

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices
    Photo courtesy of OSHA.  This picture shows actual disaster site work conditions and may not illustrate proper safety and health procedures.
  • If hazardous chemical containers are found or leaking materials are detected:
    • Do not use spark-producing devices (e.g., engines, tools, electronic, and communications equipment) in the immediate area
    • Take self-protective measures (i.e., move to a safe distance upwind) and contact hazardous material response personnel for evaluation/removal before continuing work in the area
    • Use a float/buoy or transponder to mark the location of the chemical container

Additional Personal Protective Equipment
  • Evaluate the need to revise protective clothing, respirator, and glove selection

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CONTACT WITH DOWNED LINES AND LIVE ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT AND OTHER UTILITIES (E.G., GAS, WATER)

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices
  • Assume that electrical lines are energized until proven otherwise.  Lines and other conductors may become re-energized without warning as utilities are evaluated and restored after a disaster
  • Inspect the work area for downed conductors and do not go near, drive over, or otherwise come in contact with them
  • Downed electrical conductors can energize other objects, including fences, water pipes, bushes, trees, and telephone/CATV/fiber optic cables
  • Unless de-energized and visibly grounded, maintain proper distance from overhead electrical power lines (at least 10 feet) and/or provide insulating barriers
  • Do not approach any gas leaks; if a gas leak is detected, secure spark-producing devices (e.g., engines, tools, electronic, and communications equipment) and evacuate the area until the leak is secured
  • Contact utility company to assist in locating, marking, and shutting off/purging utility lines that may pose a hazard or may be impacted; ensure that lines have been purged as needed before beginning work

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CHEMICAL AND MATERIAL STORAGE AND USE

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices
  • Segregate and store incompatible chemicals separately. For example, store solvents and oxidizers (e.g., peroxides) separately, and acids and caustics separately
  • Secure compressed gas cylinders and ensure that they are stored properly when not in use (regulators off and valve caps on when not in use; separate oxygen and fuel gas by 20 feet or using a non-combustible barrier (5 ft high, fire-resistant rating of at least ½ hour))
  • Store chemicals in containers approved and designed for chemical storage and mark all storage locations
  • Store and handle hazardous materials in areas with natural or forced ventilation; do not store or handle in low-lying areas
  • Isolate, secure and identify storage areas
  • Prohibit smoking near storage areas
  • Keep ignition sources at least 25 feet away from storage areas
  • Ensure that fire extinguishers and extinguishing agents are available in the immediate area
  • Bond and ground containers before dispensing flammable liquids. Reference 29 CFR 1926.152(e)(2)

Additional Personal Protective Equipment
  • Gloves made of material that will protect user from chemicals handled
  • Face shield or goggles with indirect venting. If a face shield is selected, eye protection must be worn under the face shield
  • Coveralls or apron resistant to chemicals being handled
  • Disposable boot covers resistant to the chemicals being handled
  • A respirator and cartridges specific for chemical, as necessary

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NOISE

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices
  • Place generators, compressors, and other noisy equipment at a distance or behind a barrier when possible

Additional Personal Protective Equipment
  • Hearing protection when working around potential noise sources and when noise levels exceed 90 dBA.  A useful "rule of thumb"-if you cannot hold a conversation in a normal speaking voice with a person who is standing at arms length (approximately 3 feet), the noise level may exceed 90 dBA

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GENERATOR AND COMPRESSOR USED FOR DIVE AIR-LINE SYSTEMS

Key Engineering Controls and Work Practices
    Photo courtesy of OSHA.  This picture shows actual disaster site work conditions and may not illustrate proper safety and health procedures.
  • Keep generator and compressor exhaust away from and downwind of any diver air supply intakes
  • Never attach a generator directly to the electrical system of a structure unless a qualified electrician has installed a transfer switch for the generator. If the structure's electrical system is not isolated, it may energize the utility's wiring system for great distances and create a risk of electrocution for utility workers and others in the area
  • Always plug electrical equipment directly into the generator using the manufacturer's supplied cords or grounded (3-pronged) extension cords that are rated for the total anticipated load
  • Do not overload a generator; it can overheat and create a fire hazard
  • Ground and bond generators according to the manufacturer's recommendations; ensure that any manufacturer-required connections are secure before using the generator
  • Keep the generator dry; protect with a canopy if needed; do not use it in wet or rainy conditions
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous, colorless, and odorless gas that is produced by the incomplete burning of the generator's fuel.  CO is harmful when breathed because it displaces oxygen in the blood and deprives the heart, brain, and other vital organs of oxygen
  • Never use a generator indoors or in enclosed spaces such as garages and basements; opening windows and doors may not prevent CO from building up in those spaces. Do not use a generator outdoors near doors, windows, and vents that could allow CO to enter
  • Ensure that a generator has 3 to 4 feet of clear space on all sides and above it to ensure adequate ventilation and cooling
  • Before refueling, shut down the generator and allow it to cool

Additional Personal Protective Equipment
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OTHER POTENTIAL HAZARDS

Select any of the following potential hazards that can be associated with this activity in order to access relevant recommendations in the general recommendations document:
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Additional Medical Needs
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Additional Training Needs
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Related Activity Sheets
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Other Resources and References
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