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The research diving program of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego (SIO, UCSD) is the oldest of its type in the country. The first non-military class in the U.S. which taught the use of self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba) was held by scientists for scientists on the Scripps campus during the summer of 1951.

In 1952 two individuals died using university-owned scuba equipment. This led to the President's Office restricting diving to those who had been trained through the program at Scripps. A statewide committee was formed to address the problems of training, equipment standards, air purity, physical examinations, recordkeeping, and diver certification.

These committee members were physicians, environmental health and safety specialists, biologists, physicists, engineers, most of whom were themselves divers. Their progress, the increasing availability of diving equipment and development of training and certification procedures led President Sproul in 1953 to accept the use of research diving as a viable means of conducting academic research within the university. The committee published its first set of Rules and Regulations covering the use of diving in 1954. This manual represents the 1998 revision of that document. It should also be noted that in 1953 Los Angeles county sent three individuals to Scripps for diver training. This trio then developed the Los Angeles underwater instructors program, the oldest such instructor certification program in the U. S.

The university decentralization of the early 1960's led to development, by the Scripps Diving Officer of programs on each of the other campuses. At the request of the President's Office, the Diving Officer also developed the first "University Guide for Diving Safety." This document, first published in March 1967, allows reciprocity between the various campuses, and is reviewed yearly by the campus Diving Safety Officers.

The safety record of research diving within the university is an enviable one and is the product of continued monitoring by the campus diving authorities.

Scientific diving was recently exempted from the OSHA Commercial Diving Standard based upon the documented history of self regulation in the scientific community.

The following is a quote from the State of California Title 8 Article 152 General Industry Safety Orders with the specific exception and necessary requirements for that exception.

(E)Scientific diving operations under the direction and control of a diving program containing at least the following elements:

1.Diving safety manual which includes at a minimum: procedures covering all diving operations specific to the program; procedures for emergency care, including recompression and evacuation; and criteria for diver training and certification.

2.Diving control (safety) board, composed of active research divers, shall at a minimum have the authority to: approve and monitor diving projects; review and revise the diving safety manual; assure compliance with the manual; certify the depths to which a diver has been trained; take disciplinary action for unsafe practices; and, assure adherence to the buddy system (a diver is accompanied by and is in continuous contact with another diver in the water) for SCUBA diving."

This manual was modified to comply with the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) Standards for Scientific Diving and Certification and Operations of Scientific Programs which was published April of 1987. The AAUS document represents the minimal safety standards for scientific diving at the present state of the art.

The policies, procedures and standards set forth in this Diving Safety Manual are intended to govern the training and diving operations of all personnel participating in the Research Diving Program at SIO, UCSD. It applies to all divers operating under University auspices, including visiting divers, and to those campus officers responsible for the management and administration of the research diving program.

James R. Stewart
Chief Diving Safety Officer Emeritus

Wayne Pawelek
Diving Safety Officer