Scientific and archaeological diving projects

Diving at Work Regulations 1997. Approved Code of Practice and guidance

Date of publication:
978 0 7176 6596 9
Series code:
L107 (Second edition)

This Approved Code of Practice and associated guidance provides practical advice and sets out what you have to do to comply with the requirements of the Diving at Work Regulations 1997.

It applies to divers who are engaged in scientific and archaeological diving projects within the United Kingdom waters adjacent to Great Britain (generally 12 nautical miles from the low water line). This includes all diving projects undertaken in support of scientific research or scientific education.

In order for a diving project to fall within the Diving Regulations, there must be at least one diver participating in it who is 'at work'. This means that at least one person must be diving as an employee or a self-employed person.

Archaeological diving projects include activities carried out in support of:

  • the investigation of sites of historic interest;
  • the analysis of physical remains;
  • the recovery from such sites of articles for preservation and further analysis, and educational instruction.

It does not cover the recovery of items for salvage and then sale or personal use. This is covered by the Inland/inshore Approved Code of Practice.

Diving for scientific or archaeological purposes which falls within the scope of the Offshore Approved Code of Practice is covered by that Code and not by this, for example diving projects where closed bell or saturation diving techniques are used.

This edition of the Approved Code of Practice has been revised in order to simplify some of the information, update the references and provide greater consistency across all of the Codes of Practice covering diving at work. This document has also been updated to reflect changes in technology and industry practice. The most significant changes relate to:

  • Availability of compression chambers. This change is to reflect medical advice and research into time to treatment for decompression illness.
  • Fitness to dive. Further information has been provided for divers regarding medical treatment, medical conditions or medication being taken, that may make them unfit to dive.
  • Diving in pools and tanks. Changes have been made regarding team size and risk assessment to ensure consistency.
  • Two-way communications. Clarification of requirements for communication with divers.
  • Provision of oxygen.Additional information has been provided on the provision of sufficient oxygen for the transport of an injured diver to a compression chamber or hospital.

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Updated: 2021-03-04