Diving Medicals

Somehwere in the dim and distant past someone raised the thorny issue of chest x-rays for sports divers medicals. Whilst in civvie street they are no longer routinely required, in military circles there has been some confusion.

At a recent (sports med related) meeting the issue was discussed and I have it from a reliable source that the following is current advice for divers:

D/SG(MedPol) 350/7/4/ dated 20 Oct 98

In essence: All service personnel wishing to undertake sports diving must have had a normal chest x-ray within 5yrs of commencing dive training. Further x-rays are not required unless clinically indicated.

Having asked an Occupational Health (OH) wallah why even this requirement is stipulated I was told that there were concerns, amongst the mil diving experts, that the chest x-rays were an essential means of reducing risks to divers, given the causes of diving related deaths. The OH Doc kinda told me 'If you knew the main causes of diving related deaths you wouldnt want to go in the water without a clear x-ray!'
Have you seen some of the civvies who go diving. Waddling wastes of lard barely unable to climb back into the boat at the end :( . Thanks but I'll stick to the current system in place. What I do object to is the possibility of having to go down the HSE route of a medical every year if you are an instructor or supervisor. This would be time consuming, unnecessary and would put a hideous work load onto our Medical services, who in the Army are rarely HSE accredited. As we would be deemed to be diving on duty, and therefore 'at work', does the young soldier who wants to learn also have to have an annual HSE medical - I sincerely hope not. Safe Diving :twisted: .
I wasn't aware of the annual medical thing for instructors/supervisors. Does that include Sports divers? Would be interested in reading up on this - LL - do you know where I can find info?

PB, so far it is not actually printed anywhere but has been doing the rounds of the ASADA and other service committee meetings. If it went all the way it would possibly apply to all services recreational divers diving with services kit (ie On Duty), but is more likely to be those with a duty of care (SADS and instructors). It is being fought hard and I am hopeful that we will retain the current format. Particularly when the BSAC has gone in completely the other direction to self certification. On the bright side perhaps they will also give us diving pay like the RE :D
The diving medical issue rumbles on… the HSE 1997 ACOP for Recreational Divers lays out the rules. It does not look like a dispensation will be given to the Armed Forces from the HSE as in order for the MOD to accept liability for soldiers whilst on AT they must me ‘on duty’. If the solider is ‘on duty’ he therefore is at work, catch 22. :?
I believe that if you are diving during adventure training you have to have a diving medical carried out by and MO who has a qualificaton from INM in underwater medicine.
If diving onleave you can be signed up for PADI/ BSAC medical by your MO as a GP would do the same in civvy street. Your responsibility to provide the forms though and the doc is within their rights to charge you for private consultation, thought most don't.
If you dive 'on duty' (AT expedition) then you will require a full medical as you are classed at work as per HSE ACOP 1997. If you are on leave or ‘off duty’ then you can merely sign a self-declaration form that both PADI and BSAC issue. The only time a doctor is required to sign a self-cert is if you answer yes to any questions.

Currently no policy is been issued to move away from the ‘on duty’ status for approved AT activities (The 9 JSAT).
At the moment the requirements are these:

If diving under AT regulations.

With military dive club - All members must be members of BSAC and hold a full sports diver’s medical. Not a self assessment medical form. This form can be signed by any doctor. Civilians members must have the full medical as well. Military personnel must have the chest x-ray. Civilians do not have to have chest x-rays unless the doctor thinks that it is required.

Military expeds – personnel from other diving organisations may dive with the medical that has been required by their organisation. But if they wish to undertake any training then they require the full sports diving medical as above.

Copies of the full sports diver medical form can be down loaded from the BSAC website.

The HSE has said that diving in the military under AT is classed as “at work”. It is still under discussion where we will require the HSE medical. If we do then it will not only be instructors, trainers or supervisors but everybody. It is the Joint Service Sub Aqua Diving Regulations (JSSADR) that we adhere to and they will change when the decision is finaly made.

If diving under civilian regulations.

No military kit used, no military transport used, no service compressor used to fill cylinders etc…etc…etc, then you can just apply the BSAC or PADI or whatever organisation regulations you use.

Dive Safe and remember you don’t have to out swim a shark – just your buddy. :lol:
The JSSADR are the regulations for Recreational diving within the Armed forces, the overriding document that this information is drawn from is the HSE ACOP 1997 Recreational Projects.

If it all gos tits up it is the HSE that we answer to and even LAIT would agree with that. If you are organising any recreational diving you must have a copy of HSE ACOP 1997 and stick to the code.
The HSE has only just stated that Sports Sub Aqua Diving in the MOD is classed as “at work”.

It is up to the JSSADC to state if and when we have to carry a copy of ACOP 1997. This information will be sent out as soon as it is known to all SADS and single service associations. It is more than likely the information required is already incorporated within JSSADR and as every SADS has to carry them whenever he is supervising diving, the point is mute.

The SADS dive slate has already been amended to meet the requirements of the HSE and has been distributed out with the last Bovi Bulletin to all registered SADS.

The HSE is the higher authority and we will comply with it but lets just give the guy’s a chance to sort it. The HSE are fully aware of our situation and nobody is going to get hung if there is an incident and they have complied to JSSADR which do not comply the HSE at the moment.

We comply to JSSADR and JSSADR will comply to the HSE.

Dive safe.
The JS School of Diving is the contractor for the Armed Forces and as such they are now taking on the SADS situation. As such any person involved in recreational diving projects must be aware of ACOP 1997 regardless of any in house regulations. The ACOP is a document for ALL diving projects, which is clear, and concise, the JSSADR is somewhat dated and has a strong bias to BSAC and 88 tables. The JSSADR should be a generic document for any recreational diving regardless of training organisation.

Duty of care to those diving must be the primary concern. The HSE provides an excellent guideline for diving projects. Up until 6 months ago it was impossible to get hold of a copy of the JSSADR by an expedition leader. It is imperative that this document once updated has a very wide distribution so that expedition leader can conduct quality control of SADS as it the exped leader not the SADS who has his/her neck on the line (AGAI Vol 1, Chap 11).
Dear Admin Spice,

Sorry for taking so long is replying to your post but this silly army business keeps getting in the way of the important things in life.

From the nature of your post I get the impression that you are a frustrated PADI diver with very little experience in military sports diving or even diving in general. If I am wrong I will apologise now if not here goes.

“The JS School of Diving is the contractor for the Armed Forces and as such they are now taking on the SADS situation”

SADS have always been trained and assessed by the Joint Service Sub Aqua Diving Centre (JSSADC) based at Bovisand. Even with the new formation of the MOD Superintendent of Diving (Who from 6 Sep as taken over the responsibility for JSSADR), the JSSADC will continue to train and assess SADS under the direction of DNPTS. As far as anyone is aware there is no “SADS situation”.

“The JSSADR is somewhat dated and has a strong bias to BSAC and 88 tables”

I can’t why they are dated they cover decompression diving, mixed gasses, diving computers and rebreathers what else do you want? As for the fact that they are bias towards BSAC – of course they are. BSAC has been recognised as the governing body for sports diving in the UK for over 50 years. It is a non profit organisation designed to promote safe diving and not a money making franchise as some other diving organisations are. The basis of BSAC is to form branches which conduct training and are run by an elected committee, these branches are run just like any other military sporting club that a unit has. Barring individual instructors the training programme supplied by BSAC is second to none, very few other agencies ensure that the student is capable of rescuing the instructor on the first open water dive!

Before anybody starts an us and them argument I have taught on both BSAC and PADI courses. Each organisation has its benefits and drawbacks if you want to know just pm me, but in the meantime let’s just leave it.

“The JSSADR should be a generic document for any recreational diving regardless of training organisation”.

This is a bad idea. Not only would the SADS have to fully conversant with every agencies regulations it would make planning a dive programme impossible. The basis of buddy diving which was introduced by BSAC and adopted by the military sports diving is fundamental to safe diving, in that the divers are able to rescue each other. Divers from such organisations as PADI are not taught to rescue their buddy until the Rescue Diver Course, but again this is getting into an us and them argument that appears every other month in the diving magazines, lets just say that it is not conducive with military sports diving practice.

“Up until 6 months ago it was impossible to get a hold of a cop of the JSSADR by an expedition leader”

Who did you ask? The regs are freely available to anybody, here’s a list of where you could have obtained a copy: On the notice board of any military diving club, JSSADC, Army Sub Aqua Diving Association (ASADA), any other single service diving organisation, any SADS, any Corps or Regimental diving association, Army Sub Aqua Diving Centre Bovington, CJSATC (Cyprus) or now MOD S of D Portsmouth.

“It is the exped leader not the SADS who has his/her neck on the line”

Obviously you have not heard what happens to a SADS who f***s up! I know of 2 SADS who lost their tickets last year. In a purely legal aspect, responsibility also lies with a subject matter expert (in this case a SADS) if one is present. In the regs (AGAI Vol 1 Chap 11 para 11.018 f) it is the Commanding Officer who takes final responsibility for the exercise.

If you can’t trust your SADS don’t use him on an exped, ask other expeds or clubs for a recommendation. Report any SADS for any bad practice or if you are that p****d off stop fighting the system instead of using it, and pay through your nose for a civy diving holiday.

One final point, did you know that there is provision for an exped to conduct training from an organisation other than BSAC?

Safe Diving
Many thanks for getting back to me.

I teach both BSAC and PADI and have done for years. I have worked around the world in diving. I understand about Military ‘recreational’ diving. I have been involved with many expeditions and numerous diving activities around the UK.

I give up on this! :cry:
Dear Admin Spice,

SADS give that extra level of safety and professionalism in marshalling (I hope) :wink: that has resulted in the extremely low casualty rate that we have in military sports diving.

The definition of a SADS is almost the same as that of a BSAC First Class Diver e.g. someone who has been trained to conduct and supervise diving expeditions.

If BSAC could, they would love to instigate the SADS qualification but will never be able to due to outcry of the old who think they know better. “I’ve been marshalling diving for 600 years, Who says I have to be assessed on it again?” :roll:

The only change that I would make would be to insist that to be a SADS, you would have be a BSAC NQI. It does seem silly to me that a SADS can supervise diving but cannot conduct try dives if he is not an instructor, and how can you question an instructor’s conduct if you are not an instructor yourself.

Give the pre-SADS course a go, if nothing else you’ll get 5 days great diving with equally experienced people, and if you go onto get your qual you’ll be pestered by people looking for a SADS for expeds all over the world.

Safe Diving

PS you changed your post whilst I was in mid reply. I now look like a rambling idiot, mind you that was never difficult :lol:
Thanks for your reply.

I felt my first effort was a little strong. I know a bit about this subject and I just do not get it!

Sorry but the HSE are the people I answer to. The JSSADR needs to reflect this docuemt, it needs to reflect divers from any NGB.
I was told that the army do not distinguish between sport and military diving (hense having SADS and stuff) the chest x-ray is a hse requirement for commercial divers and so military divers and that is why you have to have them, there is usually a way to get them through the system though so it is not a real issue

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