By Phil Newsum
By the release of this edition of Underwater magazine, a draft of the International Consensus Standards for Commercial Diving and Underwater Operations (edition 6.4) will be presented to the Board for review. The ADCI Safety and Technical Committees are currently looking at the use and requirements for Quick-Disconnects (QDs). While these fittings come in a variety of different models and are used in several ways, the ADCI is looking to provide some guidance on the use and accepted models for use with life-support equipment. If consensus can be reached by the committees and ADCI Board of Directors, we will look to include the new guidance in edition 6.4.
Please take note of the Year-in-Review article on page 12. It covers the accomplishments of the association despite the challenges of COVID-19. In March, the association summoned its partners to get ahead of the question that both clients and contractors would soon be asking, “How can we safely perform essential tasks without further spread of infection to personnel?” We developed COVID-19 Guidance for Surface Diving Operations based upon feedback from our Physicians Diving Advisory Committee (PDAC), Center for Disease Control (CDC) and contractors. As we learned more about the virus, we would issue additional information notices, culminating with the one document that industry needed, Returning to Diving after Infection from COVID-19. This document outlines what protocols and examinations need to be undertaken if divers are suspected or confirmed to be asymptomatic, exhibiting mild, moderate or severe symptoms.
In hindsight, the level of collaboration between industry stakeholders to address the challenges of COVID-19 was unprecedented on so many levels. It demonstrated that we can overcome the greatest of challenges if we all work together.
One challenge for the association as we head into 2021 will be reinforcing confidence among members that the challenges from COVID-19 have provided us with a new and fresh way of delivering services and holding meetings and events that were normally delivered and held in group settings. The emergence of virtual meetings and seminars have provided us a way to continue to spread our message and share lessons learned safely, while saving time and money lost with travel. There will be those that need time to understand that this should be framed as an opportunity and not a hinderance.
Once vaccines have removed restrictions from travel and social distancing, we can return to those aspects of in-person gatherings that we deem necessary for meeting the needs of our members, but there will forever be some element of virtual meetings and conferencing as a by-product from COVID-19. The amount of greater engagement from a global standpoint warrant this.
The next items I want to highlight are the ADCI Accident / Incident Reporting Requirements and the ADCI Membership Review Process.
“….It is not the intent of the ADCI to disclose identities of companies, individuals, or circumstances contained in reports received, unless these are commonly known as perhaps having been disclosed through press release or safety notice by the company involved. The PUPOSE of the “system” is to gather information that can be used in developing accurate data or where information received may warrant development of a safety notice or other guidance document intended to promote improved safety…”
It should also be noted that it is the mission of the association to provide accurate information, as well as mitigate the spreading of misinformation.
In short, the ADCI requires all member companies and associate member schools to report industry-related fatalities / catastrophic injuries. ADCI member companies can submit the reports on either their own company document or the ADCI Accident Report. The ADCI Accident Report Form can be found on the ADCI website (under Business Tools), along with the Accident Reporting section (Section 7) of the Consensus Standards.
Several sectors of the industry have inquired about the ADCI Membership Review Process and what it entails. The Membership Review Process is activated when the ADCI deems necessary, as outlined in the ADCI by-laws. The ADCI First Vice President is the designated chairman. Should an incident or concern occur with the company of the chairman or any committee member, then they will recuse themselves, and another person will be designated by the ADCI Executive Director. Factors that would warrant membership review can include, but are not limited to, an operational fatality or failure to adhere to the Consensus Standards. Recommendations by the ADCI Membership Review Committee require ratification by the Board of Directors. The performance of a formal audit to ensure adherence of the Consensus Standards may be will performed during the period in which regulating bodies conduct any required investigations. Committee recommendations affecting the status of a member company are based on investigation outcomes. Recommendations can range from no change in membership status to termination of membership. The Membership Review Committee is tasked with upholding the fourth bulleted item in the ADCI Mission Statement:
To hold all members accountable in adherence to the Consensus Standards for Commercial Diving and Underwater Operations.
In closing, I urge all companies performing underwater operations to review their policies and operational procedures to ensure that the tasks performed are being conducted at the highest levels of safety available, based on current best industry practice.