The IMCA International Code of Practice for Offshore Diving requires divers to have valid certificates of medical fitness to dive issued by suitable doctors, for which an annual medical is required.
The importance of a full medical being carried out by a doctor who is not only fully qualified as a medical practitioner, but who also has a sound knowledge of diving medicine, hyperbaric physiology and of the scope, nature and organisation of commercial offshore diving work cannot be understated.
In the absence of a suitable international approval scheme (although recognising and deferring as required to certain national systems), diving contractors need to identify suitable doctors to undertake medicals of their personnel and whose medical certificates they will recognise for new personnel. IMCA has provided its members with guidance (set out in information note IMCA D 20/01) on identifying appropriate doctors, based on their qualifications and experience, equipment needs and key elements in the diver medical examination itself.
A number of initiatives have seen diving contractors in particular regions agree to mutually recognise certain doctors for such purposes and IMCA has publicised such agreements on its members' behalf via information notes IMCA D 07/09 for Asia-Pacific, IMCA D 11/09 for Italy, IMCA D 11/02 for India and IMCA D 05/12 for Middle East & India.
There are no 'IMCA-recognised' or 'IMCA-approved' doctors, and no doctor may use the IMCA name or logo in any stamp, certificate or other material in this regard. However, we are aware that certain regulatory authorities have in place systems for approving such doctors as we have outlined in information note IMCA D 06/07.
Training in Diving Medicine
IMCA is pleased to note the development of a scheme for the approval of training in diving medicine by the independent Diving Medical Advisory Committee (DMAC) and the Medical Subcommittee of the European Diving Technology Committee (EDTCmed).
Two levels of approval are available:
- Level I - Medical assessment of divers (Medical Examiner of Divers)
- Level IIa - Medical management of diving accidents and illnesses (Competence in Diving Medicine)
Full details on this scheme, including the list of currently recognised establishments, can be found on the DMAC website at www.dmac-diving.org/courses and information note IMCA D 03/06.
DMAC/EDTCmed will approve only the courses and not the competence of those who have attended them. Further, it is restated that IMCA itself does not approve individual doctors to undertake diving medicals.