IMCA’s diving manager Bryan McGlinchy explores the role of the diving supervisor and discusses a new examination system
Diving supervisors play a vital, safety-critical role. During diving they are the focal point for the project, responsible for ensuring the safety of the diver and anyone else involved.
IMCA’s Diving Supervisor Scheme provides industry-wide training, involving the actual running of dives offshore (panel time) by the trainee supervisor. There is also a compulsory course, to be taken at an IMCA-approved school, and accompanying examinations. The IMCA diving supervisor qualification is recognised by both client companies and governments worldwide as the minimum qualification accepted for this position.
IMCA’s certified diving supervisors are the jewel in the crown of its Diving Division. They promulgate and ensure observance of the IMCA way of diving, as set out in the IMCA International Code of Practice for Offshore Diving (IMCA D 014) wherever they work.
Once trainee offshore air- or bell-diving supervisors have logged the required panel hours, their employers can, via nominated individuals within contractor member organisations, put them forward to IMCA with a recommendation that they be entered for the relevant examination. IMCA does not accept examination applications from private individuals.
There are multi-choice examination modules for air-diving supervisors, bell-diving supervisors and life-support technicians (LSTs), as well as optional legislation modules which candidates can choose to take that are relevant to the parts of the world in which they might work.
Now a new examination system has come into force embracing all nine IMCA diving examinations aimed at diving supervisors and LSTs, including a revised IMCA bell-diving supervisor (BDS) examination.
The revised BDS examination consists of four sections: Physics; physiology; chamber practices; and bell diving operations. It is based around the content of the material contained within IMCA’s guidance documents. Probably the most useful document for prior study is ‘Guidance for diving supervisors’ (IMCA D 022). However, it is essential that candidates for this examination have an excellent knowledge of all pertinent IMCA and Diving Medical Advisory Committee guidance documentation. IMCA’s website details the 34 most-relevant IMCA publications.
In the past, all nine examinations have been available in paper format, invigilated at British Council locations throughout the world on an on-demand basis. This approach meant that unique PDF papers had to be prepared and sent to examination centres around the globe where they were printed out for candidates. Once the candidates completed their exams, the papers then had to be couriered back to IMCA’s London office for manual marking.
IMCA has now introduced a more secure and efficient system, whereby all Diving Division examinations are taken via the TestReach online assessment platform. This allows unique examinations to be generated from a questions database and sent electronically straight to examination centre computer terminals. Candidates log in and take their exams on-screen. The online assessment system greatly reduces the administration involved in organising and running exams. Another major benefit of online assessment is greater security, as all exam papers, candidate details, marks and results are digitally stored.
Dedicated examination centres, housed in training establishments around the world, will host the examinations (apart from use of the IMCA office in London) and examination schedules have now been published and can be found at www.imca-int.com/events/examinations/. On-demand examinations will still be available; however, there will be an additional charge to cover the examination centre’s costs.
The responsibility for appointing a competent diving supervisor remains with the diving contractor. It is for the contractor to ensure that the appointed supervisor is qualified and competent to undertake the responsibilities of such a safety-critical role and keeps (online) a list of withdrawn/lost diving supervisor certificates by number. The new highly secure examination scheme should help contractors select able and enthusiastic diving supervisors for their projects.