Diving

Your commercial diving medical at OHRMS Ltd is carried out by Dr Robbert Hermanns MFOM, HSE's Approved Medical Examiner of Divers (AMED).

Essential information for divers:

  1. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) publishes guidance for Approved Medical Examiners of Divers (AMED) regarding the fitness requirements for commercial diving.

  2. At your first (or initial) dive examination the prospective diver must bring a health questionnaire as published by  the HSE with them. This health questionnaire must also be signed by their GP (family doctor). Without this form the AMED can refuse to examine them. The GP health questionnaire from the HSE can be found here at http://www.hse.gov.uk/diving/ma1.pdf, annex 1 page 26.

    You will also be required to fill out a detailed medical questionnaire asking similar and additional questions about you work history and past exposures, social circumstances, previous and current medical history and any questions the doctor/nurse may deem relevant in order to determine your fitness to dive. The doctor will discuss this health questionnaire with you during the consultation.

    The initial dive examination also requires a blood sample, to be analysed  for a full blood cell count. This is charged in addition to the basic dive medical price.

  3. Existing commercial divers who need their next examination must bring their previous and complete dive examination form (MA2) with them, unless they are returning to the AMED who examined them in the preceding 12 months.

  4. Costs: first dive medical (initial): £200 + VAT
               repeat dive medical: £180 + VAT 


Further general information for divers and links to the relevant HSE webpages.

Commercial diving in the UK is regulated by the Diving at Work Regulations 1997 and is enforced by the HSE . Because diving is clearly a safety critical activity, where the fitness of a diver is important for the safety of the entire dive team, the Regulations require that every commercial diver has a valid certificate to dive. These certificates are issued by an HSE Approved Medical Examiner of Divers (AMED). 

 You can find HSE's medical guidance for the dive examination at the following link (or copy the link into your browser):  http://www.hse.gov.uk/diving/ma1.pdf.

General information about exercise testing.

Because diving is a potentially dangerous and safety critical activity, the examination aims to ensure the in-water safety of the whole dive team. The margin for survival in case of an emergency under water is small. This requires all divers to be in good physical health and fitness, so that they can rescue themselves or other members of the dive team if necessary. For this reason, the diver examination includes an exercise test.

The exercise test we use to estimate your physical fitness is a simple step test, which is the preferred type of test by the HSE. We use the Chester step test protocol. 

To achieve the required fitness standard, commercial divers generally need to be able to complete 4-5 stages of 2 minutes for each stage of  stepping up and down a 25 or 30 cm high bench (depending on age and height). The test starts out very slowly and becomes quicker after every 2 minutes, until you reach approximately 80% of your maximum heart rate for your age (maximum heart rate = 220-age). Your heart rate result at the end of each stage is used to estimate your training status and is expressed in ml of Oxygen 'burned' per kg of your body per minute.

You need to achieve approximately 45 ml/kg/min of an estimated maximum oxygen consumption on the basis of this exercise test. Depending on the type of diving, the experience of the diver and the overall clinical assessment of the examination findings a slightly lower performance may be acceptable, but this will likely result in a restricted certificate. In order to achieve and maintain this level of fitness divers need to exercise on a very regular basis throughout their whole diving career. We provide tailored advice for you to achieve and maintain your required fitness.

Initial medical examination for a first time (new/aspiring) commercial diver.

The first medical examination also requires a blood test (full blood count) and a signed declaration from the candidate's General Practitioner (family physician) that the candidate is of good health and free of certain diseases. If this certificate is not presented at the first examination, the AMED may refuse to examine the diver. You can find this GP health declaration at the end of the HSE guidance document MA1 (see link above) as annex 1.

At the initial examination and at least over the age of 40 in certain intervals an ECG ('heart trace') is also required. Depending on clinical judgement and over the age of 50 years an ECG may be performed more frequently.

Please note: do not use any skin care products, lotions or moisterisers over the skin areas where the ECG electrodes have to be placed (centre and left side of the chest, wrists and lower legs). This can interfere with the attachment of the ECG electrodes or otherwise reduce the electrical conductivity of the skin.

Want to know more about how an ECG is recorded and where the electrodes are placed? Click here.


The medical examination.

Because of the safety critical nature of diving the medical examination takes a detailed look at all relevant organs. This requires the diver to undress down to their underwear (and bra for female divers). Please note that at your request a chaperone can be provided during the examination.

The examination looks at and contains the following:

  • Head, eyes and mouth (including teeth). (Please note that a poor dental status may require a referral to a dentist with confirmation of dental risk when diving. A dive certificate may be refused until all dental issues are resolved).
  • Lymph nodes, thyroid and hernias
  • Lungs, heart, abdomen
  • Reflexes (central nervous system and those of the arms and legs)
  • Movement of all major joints, arm and leg strenght
  • Balance, ears, skin.

    Some of these tests are carried out while the diver is lying or sitting on the examination couch. A number of tests are carried out while standing or performing exercises, for instance while squatting. It may also include press-ups or any other clinical examination deemed necessary. (Genitalia are generally not examined as part of the fitness examination, but where deemed relevant, a diver may be referred to their GP or relevant specialist and asked to provide a report for clarification).

  • Audiogram
  • Urine sample testing for blood, protein and sugar
  • Initial divers will always and those over 40 will receive an ECG in certain intervals (Electro cardiogram). We reserve the right to  include an ECG in the examination for all divers over 50 years of age.

Please note: it is the diver's responsibility to demonstrate that they meet HSE's requirements for fitness to dive. If this requires additional examinations and/or referral to specialists, then the costs for these examinations and specialist reports are for the diver.

The certificate of Examination (MA2).

A certificate of examination (MA2) is valid for a maximum of 12 months. Divers are reminded that, if a medical examination raises any questions about their health or their fitness, it generally takes some time to resolve such issues. It is therefore advisable not to leave your examination to the last possible moment. If a diver plans the medical examination for up to 4 weeks before expiry of their existing certificate, the new certificate may certify up to 12 months from the date of expiry of the old (existing) certificate. So you will not lose any time if you arrange your examination up to 4 weeks early.

If a diver does not agree with the certificate we issue, they may appeal to the HSE for a review of that decision. Please see the HSE MA1 guidance for further detail.

A valid dive certificate generally also qualifies for an offshore certificate at no additional costs. We can also issue Norwegian offshore certificates at a small additional fee.

We are looking forward to your custom. Please see the home page how and where to arrange an appointment.

© OHRMS Ltd 2012