NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) team members pose for a photo before a diving safety meeting aboard the NOAA Ship Hi'ialakai, near Johnston Atoll.
Safety is the number one priority of all dives at NOAA.
The NOAA Diving Program has well established policies and procedures to ensure divers conduct underwater operations safely. Safe diving encompasses a process that starts with training and continues with practice, refresher courses, planning, communication, and equipment maintenance, among others. While NDP continues to streamline procedures to allow for increased efficiency and effectiveness, NDP’s goals are to conduct the safest missions possible.
Useful Field Guides
Note: numbers in parenthesis refer to the last update (month-year)
- Diving Accident Management Field Reference Guide (9-15v.3)
- This resource includes lists of potential symptoms and treatments for diving maladies, a neurologic exam form, NOAA accident reporting procedures and forms, etc. Contact information provided is for Seattle, WA and should be replaced with local diving information.
- NOAA Neurologic Exam for Diving Casualties (8-14)
- Incident Response (Bodily Harm) (8-15)
- Incident Response (Property Damage) (8-15)
Diving Unit Safety Assessments (DUSA) and Self-Inspections (DUSI)
The NOAA Diving Program ensures that safety guidelines are followed by conducting on-site audits of every unit. These on-site visits, or Diving Unit safety Assessments (DUSAs), are managed by the NOAA Diving Safety Officer (DSO), who is appointed by the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO), NOAA Safety and Environmental Compliance Division (SECD). The Diving Safety Officer works with a team of three inspectors from the NOAA Diving Program to physically inspect every diving unit. It takes a cycle of three years to complete inspections of all units in the Program.
The visits are an opportunity for staff from the NOAA Diving Program headquarters to answer questions from the field and help divers refresh their skills and knowledge of Program regulations. All visits include time to look over the unit dive locker, observe divers during checkout dives and perform in-water rescue scenarios with all available unit divers.
During and after the visits, inspectors work with the diving units to ensure that procedures are followed and equipment is in good working order. The DUSA findings are tracked using a database program, the Diving Unit Safety Assessment System (DUSAS), where inspectors can enter assessment findings and Line Office Diving Officers (LODOs) and Unit Diving Supervisors (UDSs) can enter corrective actions taken at the unit level.
An inspection conducted by the unit itself is termed a Diving Unit Self-Inspection (DUSI) and is required on the years a visit from Safety Program staff members is not scheduled. The UDSs respond to questions in the Diving Unit Inspection Checklist which is forwarded to their LODOs for further action or confirmation.
DUSA and DUSI Resources
- Diving Unit Inspection Checklist
- DUSA Manual (DUSA Operational Standards and Procedures)
- DUSA Training - none available at this time
- Diving Unit Safety Assessment System (DUSAS) - Database for DUSA inspections and findings