1. General Safety Statement

The University of Nottingham Sport Sub-Aqua Club (UoNSSAC) will provide safe sub-aqua training, diving and dive trips for all members of the British Sub-Aqua Club (BS-AC) who choose to join and dive with UoNSSAC.

There are inherent risks in diving but the club will do all it can to provide safe diving activities. The final decision to dive or not to dive rests with the individual at all times.

All UoNSSAC divers should be familiar with the content of this policy and should comply with it at all times as far as it is reasonably practical.

2. General Safety Procedures

UoNSSAC has a general safety policy of following the BS-AC rules, regulations and recommendations regarding training, diving and use of equipment. These can be found in a number of BS-AC publications, the most relevant of which are:

  • Branch Officers’ Handbook
  • Safe Diving
  • Boat Safety Guide
  • Sport Diving
  • Seamanship: a guide for divers
  • Safety and Rescue for Divers
  • The Diving Instructors Manual
  • Sport Diving Manual
  • Dive Leading Manual
  • Instructor Handbook

This document details UoNSSAC’s general safety policies and procedures, most of which are based on information from the above references.

BS-AC guidelines are used as a minimum standard. Where UoNSSAC deviates from BS-AC guidelines this is to take account of conditions specific to the UoNSSAC diving environment.

3. Membership and Diving

  1. All divers participating in club activities, either training (theory, pool, open water or other) or recreational diving must be BS-AC members. They may be members of the University of Nottingham branch or of another BS-AC branch. They may obtain BS-AC membership either through UoNSSAC, another BS-AC branch or directly from BS-AC.
  2. All members of the University of Nottingham branch must also be members of UoNSSAC according to BS-AC rules. In fact we require that all participants are members of UoNSSAC even if they do not belong to our branch of BS-AC. Memberships must be renewed annually.
  3. Anyone diving or training with UoNSSAC must have the specific approval of their branch Diving Officer (D.O.) and the UoNSSAC D.O. (if they are a member of the University of Nottingham Branch this is of course the same person) for that specific activity.
  4. Similarly any member of the University of Nottingham branch who wishes to dive or train with another BS-AC club must have the permission of both the UoNSSAC D.O. and the D.O. of the branch they are diving/training with.
  5. If a UoNSSAC member dives on a non-UoNSSAC dive e.g. with a commercial diving operator or on their own (see 3.6 and 3.7) – then UoNSSAC will not be responsible for those dives.
  6. A UoNSSAC dive must be authorised by the UoNSSAC Diving Officer (see 3.3).
  7. If UoNSSAC equipment is used the dive becomes a UoNSSAC dive (3.6 applies), with the caveat that this policy then applies to the diving concerned.
  8. Practical club activities must only be undertaken by people who hold a current and valid UK Sport Diver Medical Form (UKSDMF). Therefore pool training should not commence until a medical form has been completed and approved.
  9. A next-of-kin name and contact number should be provided on joining UoNSSAC and updated whenever necessary.

4. Qualifications

  1. To dive with the club divers do not have to be a qualified BS-AC diver or trainee. In line with BS-AC practice the club allows divers qualified by other agencies (e.g. PADI) to dive with us so long as they join UoNSSAC, BS-AC and do a UKSDMF medical before diving (see Section 3).
  2. All qualifications must be verified by the UoNSSAC D.O.
  3. On joining UoNSSAC, all active members must provide the D.O. with photocopies of:
    1. Proof of current BS-AC membership
    2. Current and valid medical form
    3. All qualification(s) (diver grades, instructor grades and Skill Development Course certificates)
    4. Qualification book ‘Personal Details’ page (except for non-BS-AC qualified divers where no such page exists)
  4. When any of these expire and are renewed (e.g. medical form and BS-AC membership) the member should provide the D.O. with updated photocopies. Whenever another qualification is gained a photocopy should be given to the D.O.
  5. The D.O. should only authorise club activities or nominate duties to members on a club dive or trip when his records indicate that the member can do so.
  6. The only person in UoNSSAC allowed to award qualifications is the UoNSSAC D.O.
  7. People taking part in a try-dive do not need to follow rules 3.1 , 3.2 , 3.8 and 3.9 so long as they complete and sign a BS-AC try-dive declaration form.
  8. Qualification books are to be issued at the start of training. The Personal Details page should be completed (including passport photo) and stamped by the D.O. before any training is signed off.
  9. It is the trainee’s responsibility to ensure that his/her training log is updated and signed after the completion of each training session.

5. Club Equipment

  1. UoNSSAC equipment is the responsibility of the Equipment Officer. The boats are the responsibility of the Boat Officer (see Section 6).
  2. It is the responsibility of any UoNSSAC member to make sure they inform the Equipment Officer if a piece of equipment is found to be faulty.
  3. Any equipment not suitable for use will be clearly labelled with an approved label.
  4. All members taking equipment must read the notice board in the kit room and log out the equipment taken. It is the responsibility of the individual borrowing the equipment to ensure that it is properly looked after for the duration of the loan.
  5. Access to the kit room is generally restricted to the President, Equipment Officer, Diving Officer and Training Officers. Other people may be allowed access to the equipment room but may only take kit with the permission of the D.O. (see 3.7) and the Equipment Officer.
  6. Only qualified divers, who are BS-AC and UoNSSAC members, and have their activity authorised by the D.O. may borrow kit. Trainees may only borrow equipment if under supervision of an appropriately qualified instructor.
  7. Any member using UoNSSAC equipment will be subject to the rules in this policy and to BS-AC rules, regulations and recommendations.
  8. All UoNSSAC equipment is to be maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  9. Service and maintenance records are to be kept for the following equipment: compressors, regulators, tanks and oxygen kits.
  10. Oxygen equipment is to be taken on all UoNSSAC dives except where the dive centre or boat operator provides oxygen equipment for our use (except Stoney Cove, see section 13).
  11. UoNSSAC oxygen equipment is to be serviced and maintained in accordance with the manufacturers’ or suppliers’ instructions.
  12. Two oxygen cylinders are to be kept full at all times.
  13. A qualified Oxygen Administrator must be available at all times on any club trip (see 9.4). This is the responsibility of the Dive Marshal (D.M.).
  14. A first aid kit is to be maintained by the Equipment Officer and taken on all club trips. A list of the contents and a guide to first aid to be kept with all kits, this applies to the boat kits as well. On trips it is the responsibility of the Dive Marshal to note all incidents and any items used and report them to the Union Safety Officer. The Union Safety Officer will provide replacements for used items.
  15. All club regulators are to be fitted with an ‘octopus’ demand valve.
  16. All club BCs are to be fitted with a safety whistle.
  17. Removal of DIN inserts from club tanks is not permitted (see 7.8).

6. Club Boats

  1. The UoNSSAC boats are the responsibility of the Boat Officer.
  2. Access to the boats is restricted to the D.O., Equipment Officer, Boat Officer, President and Advanced Instructors.
  3. The boats may only be used at the D.O.’s discretion.
  4. Trailers are to be maintained and serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. Each boat is to be equipped with its own VHF radio, either fixed or portable.
  6. The radio, and GPS where fitted, are to be checked before going to sea.
  7. A single GPS must not be used as the sole navigation aid.
  8. On any given club boat dive, the boat handler is appointed by the Dive Marshal.
  9. The boats are to be driven by a qualified Boat Handler (BS-AC Diver Coxswain, RYA or similar) or under the direct supervision of a qualified Boat Handler.
  10. Each boat is to be equipped with a full set of emergency equipment – this includes tools, spare parts, flares, first aid kit, torch, etc. (see Seamanship: a guide for divers). This is to be checked by the boat handler against a checklist before going to sea.
  11. Laminated guides to using the VHF radio, GPS, engines, flares and other emergency equipment are to be kept on board at all times and their location told to each person on board before going to sea.
  12. Use of the VHF is to be demonstrated to everyone on board before going to sea.
  13. Engines are to be maintained and serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  14. The boats are to be maintained in a seaworthy condition and the Boat Officer should check the boats – including emergency equipment – trailers and engines before any trip.
  15. Oxygen kit is to be carried on the boats all the time when diving activities are undertaken.

7. Personal Equipment

  1. Personal equipment is the sole responsibility of the owner.
  2. People using personal equipment must be qualified and competent in the use of their equipment for a given club dive.
  3. Equipment owners must be aware of the effect on the other UoNSSAC members of any personal diving equipment failures due to poor maintenance or incorrect use.
  4. Personal equipment may be stored in the UoNSSAC equipment room at the discretion of the Equipment Officer, and must be clearly labelled. This equipment is not to be used as club equipment.
  5. Divers will be encouraged to buy their own equipment to increase their safety due to familiarity with diving equipment.
  6. Personal equipment used on club dives must be maintained and serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. The owner is responsible for this.
  7. All personal regulators used on club dives should provide a suitable Alternate Air Source (e.g. an octopus or a second demand valve). An automatic air inflater does not constitute a second demand value.
  8. The club has adopted the A clamp (yoke) valve standard and personal DIN regulators can be used only if fitted with suitable adapter (see 5.17).

8. Training

  1. The D.O. is responsible for training, though training can be administered by other committee members and instructors.
  2. Any changes to the BS-AC training rules and regulations or the BS-AC Diver Training Program are conveyed to the D.O. by BS-AC. Any such information is to be passed on to the people administering training by the D.O.
  3. Theory lessons (as defined by the BS-AS curriculum) are to be administered by an appointed member of the committee and given by BS-AC appropriately qualified instructors (see current BS-AC recommendations).
  4. Pool training is administered by the Training Officer and approved by the D.O. Training is given by appropriately-qualified instructors (see current BS-AC recommendations).
  5. Open Water Training is subject to the rules of any other open water dive and is only to be given by appropriately-qualified instructors (see current BS-AC recommendations).

9. Safety and Rescue Skills

  1. UoNSSAC will encourage as many members as possible to undertake any training which will improve the overall safety of the club. This will be achieved by running skill development courses (SDCs) such as Oxygen Administration and Practical Rescue Management in-house as often as is feasible and by encouraging members to attend regional and national SDCs.
  2. UoNSSAC will encourage its members, where feasible, to work towards a minimum of Sports Diver, by portraying Ocean Diver as stepping-stone rather than ultimate goal.
  3. Similarly we will encourage members who are interested to work towards higher diver grades and towards instructor grades. We will actively encourage suitable candidates to attend Instructor Foundation Courses.
  4. All members should be encouraged to attend an Oxygen Administration course.
  5. All qualified Boat Handlers will be encouraged to attend a VHF radio course if they haven’t already.
  6. All qualified and suitably experienced Boat Handlers will be encouraged to take the BS-AC Diver Coxswain assessment.
  7. Minibus safety – see the Union Safety Officer for up-to-date legislation and guidelines.
  8. All members will be encouraged to attend a first aid course. A first-aider should be available at the dive site. On a dive trip the ratio of one first-aider to twelve divers should be aimed for. It is important to note that all members should have a basic knowledge of basic life saving skills such as AV, the exception being new trainees and Ocean Divers – who should be taught them as soon as possible.

10. Dive Planning

  1. There should be at least one Advanced Diver on each trip. If this is not possible, a suitably experienced Dive Leader, approved by the D.O. should be present. There must be suitable cover in the areas of Oxygen Administration, Rescue Management and Dive Planning and Marshalling.
  2. All trips must be approved by the D.O.
  3. All divers must be approved by the D.O.
  4. A Trip Form and Trip Participants List is to be submitted to the Union Safety Officer before each trip.
  5. A full risk assessment, dive plan, buddy check and SEEDS briefing should be conducted before each dive.
  6. All divers must plan their dives within the limits of their experience. The qualification must have been approved by the D.O.
  7. No member under the influence of alcohol or drugs is allowed to undertake any diving.

11. Dive Marshalling

  1. Suitable Dive Marshalls (D.M.s) must be approved by the D.O. before each trip. A D.M. is required for each sequence of dives. Under certain circumstances, for example when the D.M. is also diving, an Assistant D.M. will be required.
  2. The D.M. is answerable to the D.O., assistant D.M.s are answerable to the D.M.
  3. At least one of the D.M. or Assistant D.M. should ideally be an Advanced Diver but due to the nature of the membership of the club a minimum of Dive Leader will suffice, so long as an Advanced Diver approves the D.M.’s plans and is present for the rest of the day’s diving-related activities (to ensure safety and take control in the event of an emergency).
  4. The D.M. must give a full briefing before any series of dives.
  5. BS-AC guidelines on Dive Marshalling are vast and will not be regurgitated here, but they should be adhered to at all times. See BS-AC documentation for more information.
  6. Dive Marshalling sheets or slates should be used for all club diving and records passed to the D.O. after the trip.
  7. Depth limits, maximum dive times, equipment level requirements, air reserves (minimum 50 bar) and suitable buddy pairs to be set by the D.M. and explained in the dive briefing.
  8. If a single club boat is to be used alone, the radio, sounder and GPS should be fully operational and a backup radio should be available. Whenever possible, two or more boats should be used to provide additional safety.
  9. When more than one boat is used, the boats should operate within sight of each other and the prevailing weather conditions should be suitable for the least capable boat.
  10. All incidents, whether or not it caused a change of plan, are to be noted on the marshalling slate or sheet and reported to the D.O., the Union Safety Officer and BS-AC as applicable.
  11. The D.M. and Assistant D.M. should not dive at the same time. If two boats are used they should be in separate boats. The D.M should always dive in the second wave.
  12. Ideally standby divers or snorkellers should be available in case of problems, but this may not be possible if all divers on the surface have already dived.

12. Deputy Diving Officers

  1. The D.O. may not be available at all times. To overcome this problem, the D.O. may delegate his duties to another UoNSSAC member. The Deputy D.O. must be suitably qualified and experienced. This will only occur in exceptional circumstances and all points in this document must be adhered to.

13. Stoney Cove

  1. It is only a BS-AC recommendation that an Advanced Diver is present on all dive trips. The main function of the Advanced Diver is Oxygen Administration, Rescue Management and Dive Planning and Marshalling as required by the qualification itself. Due to Stoney Cove’s excellent rescue facilities it is not necessary to have an Advanced Diver present. However all the other notes still stand, particularly in with respect to logging of dives.
  2. All trips must be logged and a trip participant form must be submitted to the Union.
  3. Diving pairs must comply with BS-AC and UoNSSAC regulations. All dives at Stoney Cove, as for all dives, must be approved by the D.O.
  4. Oxygen equipment is to be taken to Stoney Cove as their rescue services are only there as a backup to our own.

14. Mixed Gas Diving

  1. Nitrox use is allowed on any club dive so long as the diver using it is suitably qualified (BS-AC, IANTD, TDI nitrox courses etc.). The individual using Nitrox must inform the D.M. prior to the dive. In the event of an emergency it is safe for a non-qualified diver to breathe such a mix, as long as it is not for the duration of the dive.
  2. Nitrox divers must check the Maximum Operating Depth (MOD) of their mix before diving, and dive well within this depth. The club kit is not maintained to O2 clean standards and should not be used with nitrox.
  3. Oxygen rich mixes may be used in the place of oxygen for treating diving related incidents if oxygen in its pure form is not available by reason of having run out in the treatment of the incident.

15. Tri-mix and Re-breathers

  1. Open circuit Tri-mix (or any other ‘exotic’ mix) and closed or semi-closed circuit re-breathers are only permitted to be used on club dives by suitably qualified or experienced divers. BS-AC guidelines must be followed at all times. The use of the equipment and buddy pairings must have the approval of the D.M.