Commercial diver registration in South Africa

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Commercial divers as defined in the Diving Regulations to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 are required to be registered with the Department of Labour. [1] [2] The Department of Labour has jurisdiction only within the national borders of South Africa, and therefore registered diving schools are required to operate within the borders of South Africa where the Diving Regulations apply. A registered diving school is required to comply with the Code of Practice for Commercial Diver Training, and the training standards for divers, supervisors and instructors respectively. [1] [3]

A Code of practice can be a document that complements occupational health and safety laws and regulations to provide detailed practical guidance on how to comply with legal obligations, and should be followed unless another solution with the same or better health and safety standard is in place, or may be a document for the same purpose published by a self-regulating body to be followed by member organisations.


Conditions for registration as a commercial diver in classes 1 through 6, as a diving supervisor in classes 1 through 4 and diving instructor in classes 1 through 4 are that the applicant is medically fit in terms of Regulation 20 and registered on the SAUHMA database, is in possession of an in-date first aid certificate to the specified standard (Level 1 for divers, Level 2 for supervisors), and has been assessed as competent against the training standard that applies to the class of registration by a commercial diving school registered with the Department of Labour. [1]

Diving supervisor Professional diving team leader responsible for safety

The diving supervisor is the professional diving team member who is directly responsible for the diving operation's safety and the management of any incidents or accidents that may occur during the operation; the supervisor is required to be available at the control point of the diving operation for the diving operation's duration, and to manage the planned dive and any contingencies that may occur. Details of competence, requirements, qualifications, registration and formal appointment differ depending on jurisdiction and relevant codes of practice. Diving supervisors are used in commercial diving, military diving, public safety diving and scientific diving operations.

Diving instructor Person who trains and assesses underwater divers

A diving instructor is a person who trains underwater divers. This includes free-divers, recreational divers including the subcategory technical divers, and professional divers which includes military, commercial, public safety and scientific divers.

Fitness to dive Medical fitness of a person to function safely underwater under pressure

Fitness to dive,, is the medical and physical suitability of a diver to function safely in the underwater environment using underwater diving equipment and procedures. Depending on the circumstances it may be established by a signed statement by the diver that he or she does not suffer from any of the listed disqualifying conditions and is able to manage the ordinary physical requirements of diving, to a detailed medical examination by a physician registered as a medical examiner of divers following a procedural checklist, and a legal document of fitness to dive issued by the medical examiner.

Initial registration as a diver, supervisor or instructor is done through the school which assessed the person as competent against the relevant standard. This is generally the school at which the person was trained. [3] There is no requirement for a registered diver, supervisor or instructor to renew registration periodically, but there are conditions under which registration may legally be withdrawn. [1] Recognition of prior learning and international reciprocal recognition of diver competence applies in some cases.

Recognition of prior learning (RPL), prior learning assessment (PLA), or prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR), describes a process used by regulatory bodies, adult learning centres, career development practitioners, military organizations, human resources professionals, employers, training institutions, colleges and universities around the world to evaluate skills and knowledge acquired outside the classroom for the purpose of recognizing competence against a given set of standards, competencies, or learning outcomes. RPL is practiced in many countries for a variety of purposes, for example an individual's standing in a profession, trades qualifications, academic achievement, recruitment, performance management, career and succession planning.

Application for registration

Initial application for registration as a diver, supervisor or instructor can only be done through the registered diving school at which assessment was done. [3] Application for replacement of lost certificates can be done through the school or directly to the Department of Labour.

A registration card is issued to the applicant as evidence of registration. The format has changed over the years, but the older cards are still valid as they have no expiry date. Any card is evidence of prerequisite registration, for example, a Class 3 Instructor implies that the holder is also qualified as Class 3 and 4 diver, supervisor and instructor. Normally only one card is carried. The card is not evidence of current medical fitness to dive or current first aid registration.

Classes of diver

Class 4 diver registration card: SA Department of Labour 2003 Class 4 Diver registration card.jpg
Class 4 diver registration card: SA Department of Labour 2003

The following classes of diver are defined in the Diving regulations and training standards. [1]

Where not specifically limited, a diver may be employed on diving operations under whichever of the published codes of practice is appropriate to the specific operation. [1]

Classes of diving supervisor

Class 4 Diving Supervisor registration card: SA Department of Labour 2007 Class 4 supervisor card.jpg
Class 4 Diving Supervisor registration card: SA Department of Labour 2007

The following classes of diving supervisor are defined in the training standards:

There are no supervisors limited to class 5 and 6 diving operations. Class 4 supervisor is the default minimum for these.

To register as a supervisor a person must, in terms of the training standard, first be competent and experienced as a diver of the same class and as a supervisor at the next lower class, except for Class 4 Supervisor, which is the initial level for diving supervisors. The class of supervisor relates to the type of diving work that may be supervised, not the class of diver that may be supervised. [1]

Classes of diving instructor

Class 3 Diving Instructor registration card: SA Department of Labour 2010 SA DoL Class III Diving Instructor PC160007.jpg
Class 3 Diving Instructor registration card: SA Department of Labour 2010

The following classes of diving instructor are defined in the training standards:

There are no instructors limited to class 5 and 6 diver training. Class 4 instructor is the default minimum for these.

To register as an instructor a person must, in terms of the training standard, first be competent and experienced as supervisor of the same class. The class of instructor relates to the highest class of diver and supervisor the instructor may be responsible for training and assessing. Registration of instructors requires specialised additional training in educational procedures such as adult education and training and assessment methods, for which diving schools are generally not registered. These requirements are acquired at other training establishments, but the final application for registration as a diving instructor of a specific class is through a diving school registered for that class of training. Special cases may be handled directly by the DAB at their discretion or at the request of the Chief Inspector.

Registration of Designated Medical Practitioners

Designated Medical Practitioners are medical practitioners registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa who have completed a course in underwater medicine approved by the Chief Inspector and have been designated for a four year term by the Chief Inspector. [1] :R19 There are two levels:

Registration of diving schools

Any person may apply to register a commercial diving school provided the requirements of the Diving Regulations, the Code of Practice for Diver Training, and the training standards for the class of registration are met This applies to staff, equipment and facilities, and an instructor registered to train the class for which application is made. A school is registered for training to a class which includes divers and supervisors of that class and all prerequisite classes. The school is not obliged to provide training in all programmes for which it is registered, but is required to remain compliant with all specified requirements while it is registered. The applicant is responsible for providing all evidence of compliance, and will be audited before registration.

Commercial diving schools currently registered

The Diving Advisory Board

The Diving Advisory Board (DAB) to the Department of Labour is a group comprising members appointed by the Chief Inspector of the Department of Labour in terms of Regulation 23 for a period specified at the time of appointment. [1] The DAB is made up as follows:

Additional temporary members may be co-opted to the board as and when their expertise is expected to be useful and relevant to a specific project. With the exception of the chairperson and labour inspector, the members are not employed by or contracted to the DoL. Service on the DAB is voluntary and not remunerated, though major travelling expenses are paid.

The DAB is required to make recommendations and reports to the Chief Inspector regarding matters within the scope of the Diving Regulations and advise the Chief Inspector on matters referred to the DAB. This includes compilation and revision of training standards, assessments and codes of practice, and recommendations for revisions of the Diving Regulations. [1]


Previous to the Diving Regulations 2009, the registration of divers was in terms of the Diving Regulations 2001. Registrations made under the earlier conditions remain valid although the standards for registration have changed. [15]

International recognition

Diving qualifications with specified reciprocal recognition do not require RPL as the diver may work in South Africa with the existing recognised registration. This applies only to diver registration. Supervisors and instructors must be registered locally to work as supervisors and instructors as the legal requirements are significantly different.[ citation needed ]

Recognition of prior learning

Recognition of prior learning is a right of any South African citizen,[ citation needed ] but can only be applied when a registered diving school has an RPL policy and procedures in place, as it must follow that policy and procedures. Competence and experience standards for RPL are theoretically identical to the equivalent standards for training and assessment through a formal training programme. RPL for foreign nationals is at the discretion of the diving school, who will be responsible for ensuring that all standards, policies and procedures are complied with.[ citation needed ]

Related Research Articles

In underwater diving, open water is unrestricted water such as a sea, lake or flooded quarries. It is the opposite of confined water (diving) where diver training takes place. Open water also means the diver has direct vertical access to the surface of the water in contact with the Earth's atmosphere. Open water diving implies that if a problem arises, the diver can directly ascend vertically to the atmosphere to breathe air. Penetration diving—involving entering caves or wrecks, or diving under ice—is therefore not "open water diving". In some contexts the lack of a decompression obligation is considered a necessary condition for classification of a dive as an open water dive, but this does not affect the classification of the venue as open water.

A Divemaster (DM) is a recreational diving role which includes organising and leading recreational dives, particularly in a professional capacity, and is a qualification used throughout most of the world in recreational scuba diving for a diver who has supervisory responsibility for a group of divers and as a dive guide. As well as being a generic term, Divemaster is the title of the first professional rating of many training agencies, such as PADI, SSI, SDI, NASE, except NAUI, which rates a NAUI Divemaster just under an Instructor but above an Assistant Instructor. The Divemaster certification is generally equivalent to the requirements of international Standard ISO 24801-3 Dive Leader.

Recreational diving Diving for the purpose of leisure and enjoyment, usually when using scuba equipment

Recreational diving or sport diving is diving for the purpose of leisure and enjoyment, usually when using scuba equipment. The term "recreational diving" may also be used in contradistinction to "technical diving", a more demanding aspect of recreational diving which requires greater levels of training, experience and equipment to compensate for the more hazardous conditions associated with the disciplines. Breath-hold diving for recreation also fits into the broader scope of the term, but this article covers the commonly used meaning of scuba diving for recreational purposes, where the diver is not constrained from making a direct near-vertical ascent to the surface at any point during the dive.

Professional diving Underwater diving where divers are paid for their work

Professional diving is diving where the divers are paid for their work. The procedures are often regulated by legislation and codes of practice as it is an inherently hazardous occupation and the diver works as a member of a team. Due to the dangerous nature of some professional diving operations, specialized equipment such as an on-site hyperbaric chamber and diver-to-surface communication system is often required by law, and the mode of diving for some applications may be regulated.

Diving medicine Diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders caused by underwater diving

Diving medicine, also called undersea and hyperbaric medicine (UHB), is the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of conditions caused by humans entering the undersea environment. It includes the effects on the body of pressure on gases, the diagnosis and treatment of conditions caused by marine hazards and how relationships of a diver's fitness to dive affect a diver's safety.

Scuba diving Using bottled air to swim underwater

Scuba diving is a mode of underwater diving where the diver uses a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba), which is completely independent of surface supply, to breathe underwater. Scuba divers carry their own source of breathing gas, usually compressed air, allowing them greater independence and freedom of movement than surface-supplied divers, and longer underwater endurance than breath-hold divers. Although the use of compressed air is common, a new mixture called enriched air (Nitrox) has been gaining popularity due to its benefit of reduced nitrogen intake during repetitive dives. Open circuit scuba systems discharge the breathing gas into the environment as it is exhaled, and consist of one or more diving cylinders containing breathing gas at high pressure which is supplied to the diver through a regulator. They may include additional cylinders for range extension, decompression gas or emergency breathing gas. Closed-circuit or semi-closed circuit rebreather scuba systems allow recycling of exhaled gases. The volume of gas used is reduced compared to that of open circuit, so a smaller cylinder or cylinders may be used for an equivalent dive duration. Rebreathers extend the time spent underwater compared to open circuit for the same gas consumption; they produce fewer bubbles and less noise than open circuit scuba which makes them attractive to covert military divers to avoid detection, scientific divers to avoid disturbing marine animals, and media divers to avoid bubble interference.

Underwater diving Descending below the surface of the water to interact with the environment

Underwater diving, as a human activity, is the practice of descending below the water's surface to interact with the environment. Immersion in water and exposure to high ambient pressure have physiological effects that limit the depths and duration possible in ambient pressure diving. Humans are not physiologically and anatomically well adapted to the environmental conditions of diving, and various equipment has been developed to extend the depth and duration of human dives, and allow different types of work to be done.

Scientific diving The use of diving techniques in the pursuit of scientific knowledge

Scientific diving is the use of underwater diving techniques by scientists to perform work underwater in the direct pursuit of scientific knowledge. The legal definition of scientific diving varies by jurisdiction. Scientific divers are normally qualified scientists first and divers second, who use diving equipment and techniques as their way to get to the location of their fieldwork. The direct observation and manipulation of marine habitats afforded to scuba-equipped scientists have transformed the marine sciences generally, and marine biology and marine chemistry in particular. Underwater archeology and geology are other examples of sciences pursued underwater. Some scientific diving is carried out by universities in support of undergraduate or postgraduate research programs, and government bodies such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the UK Environment Agency carry out scientific diving to recover samples of water, marine organisms and sea, lake or riverbed material to examine for signs of pollution.

Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques International organisation for underwater activities in sport and science, and recreational diver training and certification

Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS) is an international federation that represents underwater activities in underwater sport and underwater sciences, and oversees an international system of recreational snorkel and scuba diver training and recognition. It is also known by its English name, the World Underwater Federation, and its Spanish name, Confederacion Mundial De Actividades Subacuaticas. Its foundation in Monaco during January 1959 makes it one of the world's oldest underwater diving organisations.

Diver certification Certification as competent to dive to a specified standard

A Diving certification or C-card is a document recognizing that an individual or organization authorized to do so, "certifies" that the bearer has completed a course of training as required by the agency issuing the card. This is assumed to represent a defined level of skill and knowledge in underwater diving. Divers carry a qualification record or certification card which may be required to prove their qualifications when booking a dive trip, hiring scuba equipment, filling diving cylinders or in the case of professional divers, seeking employment.

The Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme (ADAS) is an international commercial and occupational diver certification scheme. It has mutual recognition arrangements with other equivalent national schemes. ADAS qualifications have international recognition.

Diver training Processes by which people develop the skills and knowledge to dive safely underwater

Diver training is the set of processes through which a person learns the necessary and desirable skills to safely dive underwater within the scope of the diver training standard relevant to the specific training programme. Most diver training follows procedures and schedules laid down in the associated training standard, in a formal training programme, and includes relevant foundational knowledge of the underlying theory, including some basic physics, physiology and environmental information, practical skills training in the selection and safe use of the associated equipment in the specified underwater environment, and assessment of the required skills and knowledge deemed necessary by the certification agency to allow the newly certified diver to dive within the specified range of conditions at an acceptable level of risk. Recognition of prior learning is allowed in some training standards.

Surface-supplied diving skills Skills and procedures required for the safe operation and use of surface-supplied diving equipment

Surface supplied diving skills are the skills and procedures required for the safe operation and use of surface-supplied diving equipment. Besides these skills, which may be categorised as standard operating procedures, emergency procedures and rescue procedures, there are the actual working skills required to do the job, and the procedures for safe operation of the work equipment other than diving equipment that may be needed.

Diving procedures are standardised methods of doing things that are commonly useful while diving that are known to work effectively and acceptably safely.

Diving regulations are the stipulations of the delegated legislation regarding the practice of underwater diving.

Diving team A group of people working together to enhance dive safety and achieve a task

A diving team is a group of people who work together to conduct a diving operation. A characteristic of professional diving is the specification for minimum personnel for the diving support team. This typically specifies the minimum number of support team members and their appointed responsibilities in the team based on the circumstances and mode of diving, and the minimum qualifications for specified members of the diving support team. The minimum team requirements may be specified by regulation or code of practice. Specific appointments within a professional dive team for which competences are specified and registration may be required are listed below.

A diver training standard is a document issued by a certification, registration regulation or quality assurance agency, that describes the prerequisites for participation, the aim of the training programme, the specific minimum competences that a candidate must display to be assessed as competent, and the minimum required experience that must be recorded before the candidate can be registered or certified at a specific grade by the agency. A standard is a description of a way of doing something that has usually been derived from the experience of experts in a specific field. The purpose is to provide a reliable method for people to share a reasonably consistent expectation regarding the scope and quality of the service. Training standards allow objective comparison between the training provided by various agencies and the competence indicated by certification or registration to the specific standard, though in most cases, training and competence may exceed the minimum requirement much of the time, and variation between newly certified divers can be considerable, partly due to differences in the training, and partly due to qualities of the candidate. Training standards may narrowly prescribe the training, or may concentrate on assessment of exit level competence, and allow recognition of prior learning based on various forms of evidence.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Department of Labour. Diving Regulations 2009. Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 – Regulations and Notices – Government Notice R41. Pretoria: Government Printer. Archived from the original on 2016-11-04. Retrieved 2018-12-01 via Southern African Legal Information Institute.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  2. No. 85 of 1993:Occupational Health and Safety Act, as amended by Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act No 181 of 1993 (PDF). Pretoria: Government Printer via
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  4. Diving Advisory Board (October 2007). Class I Training Standard (Revision 5 ed.). South African Department of Labour.
  5. Diving Advisory Board (October 2007). Class II Training Standard (Revision 5 ed.). South African Department of Labour.
  6. Diving Advisory Board (October 2007). Class III Training Standard (Revision 5 ed.). South African Department of Labour.
  7. Diving Advisory Board (October 2007). Class IV Training Standard (Revision 5 ed.). South African Department of Labour. p. 5.
  8. Diving Advisory Board (October 2007). Class V Training Standard. South African Department of Labour.
  9. Diving Advisory Board (October 2007). Class VI Training Standard. South African Department of Labour.
  10. Diving Advisory Board (October 2007). Class I Supervisor Training Standard. South African Department of Labour.
  11. Diving Advisory Board (October 2007). Class II Supervisor Training Standard. South African Department of Labour.
  12. Diving Advisory Board (October 2007). Class III Supervisor Training Standard. South African Department of Labour.
  13. Diving Advisory Board (October 2007). Class IV Supervisor Training Standard. South African Department of Labour. p. 5.
  14. Diving Advisory Board (2018). Class II instructor Training Standard. South African Department of Labour.
  15. Department of Labour (11 January 2002). Diving regulations 2001 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993. Government Gazette, Republic of South Africa. 438. Pretoria: Government Printer.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  16. Staff (6 January 2012). "The IDSA Table of Equivalence: A List of Schools teaching the IDSA Standards together with their National equivalent" (PDF). IDSA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 August 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2013.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)