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    DMAC issues statement on commercial diving

    Organisations and Associations // July 11, 2007

    The health risks associated with work in the commercial diving industry are the subject of a single page statement issued by the Diving Medical Advisory Committee (DMAC).

    DMAC is the independent body of diving medical specialists from across Europe that seeks to provide advice about medical and certain safety aspects of commercial diving. The committee has members from Italy, The Netherlands, Norway and the UK.

    “Divers intending a career in the industry, as well as those responsible for their management, safety and welfare need to be aware of the health risks associated with work in the industry,” explained the committee’s chairman, Dr Alf O Brubakk of the University of Trondheim, Norway.

    “Our statement is intended to provide a summary of the current state of knowledge. We strongly advise that individuals wishing to have further, or fuller, information should contact their diving medical adviser.”

    The one-page statement summarises, in five bullet points, the current state of knowledge with respect to pressure effects and other risks arising from the environment, equipment and activity and gives a brief overview on the debate concerning possible long-term health effects for divers.

    “As we say in a sixth and final bullet point, the findings indicate that although long term health effects are mostly minor in nature, there is a continuing need to improve all aspects of safety within the diving industry,” said Dr Brubakk. 

    “The improvements in diving procedures which have resulted in significant reductions in incidence of decompression illness may contribute to a reduction in long term health effects in the future. However, attention should also be paid to other aspects of commercial diver safety, including the risks of trauma and the control of toxic exposures. Measures to control these risks would be expected to reduce any long term health impact in the future.”

    DMAC is an independent committee, formed in 1974 to provide advice about medical and certain safety aspects of commercial diving.

    The committee is comprised of doctors involved in the practice of diving medicine in Northern Europe (currently Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom), medical representatives from relevant navies (UK and The Netherlands) and a diving contractor representative nominated by IMCA (The International Marine Contractors Association). Members of the committee receive no payment for their time or contributions to committee proceedings - the work of the committee is entirely voluntary.

    DMAC meets two or three times a year. The committee's agenda includes business items identified by members of the committee and items referred to it by any part of the industry and/or regulatory authorities.

    The committee's work is reflected in its series of guidance notes concerning various aspects of diving and diving medical practice, each of which is available for downloading from the DMAC website. The notes are also distributed to a large number of offshore diving contractors as they are issued. In 2004 the committee also instigated a scheme for approval of courses in diving medicine, details of which, including a list of recognised courses, are published on the website site.

    Further information on DMAC’s work is available at


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