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OSHA Trade Release
Feb. 13, 2004
Contact: Frank Meilinger
Phone: (202) 693-1999


OSHA Amends Commercial Diving Operations Standard

WASHINGTON -- Recreational diving instructors and diving guides can use alternatives to an on-site decompression chamber under a revision to OSHA's Commercial Diving Operations standard, the Agency announced today.

The changes to the standard allow these particular divers the opportunity to use nitrox breathing gas under specified conditions, thereby making a decompression chamber near the dive site unnecessary. The changes impact recreational divers who rely on self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) and dive at depths of 130 feet or less. The revision does not change requirements for other types of commercial divers.

"These changes allow the diving industry to practice innovative diving methods and procedures that help prevent diving accidents such as decompression sickness and embolism," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "Employers of recreational diving instructors and guides covered by this revision can extend their diving operations and focus even more on the safety and health of their workers."

In nitrox diving, a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen gases replaces compressed air as the breathing gas. The partial pressure of nitrogen (a gas that causes decompression sickness) in the gas mixture is lower than it is in compressed air, and that lower pressure allows the diver to remain longer at specified depths than conventional SCUBA divers who breathe compressed air at those depths, and to do so without increasing their risk of decompression sickness.

OSHA based the revision on a variance granted to Florida-based Dixie Divers, Inc. in 1999. That variance exempted Dixie from OSHA's decompression-chamber requirements for recreational diving instructors and diving guides, under similar conditions.

OSHA's revision to the commercial diving standard is scheduled for publication in the Feb. 17, 2004, Federal Register.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is dedicated to assuring worker safety and health. Safety and health add value to business, the workplace and life. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.


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U.S. Labor Department releases are accessible on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call (202) 693-7773 or TTY (202) 693-7755.


Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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