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Certificate forgeries raise alarm and carry significant consequences for safety

Published on 3 October 2023

As part of an IMCA diving contractor membership application, applicant companies are required to provide evidence that they can assemble an IMCA compliant dive team to conduct their diving projects safely and efficiently. While reviewing a recent application, IMCA diving technical advisers uncovered a number of forged UK HSE diving certificates, IMCA DMT certificates, and CSWIP 3.1U certificates.

The forgery of training certificates is of course very likely to increase the risk of serious adverse events in many industries, but in a high risk industry such as ours, the discovery of several forged training certificates within a short period of time is particularly concerning.

The offshore diving industry expects its dive team personnel to undergo appropriate training and hold certain recognised core training certificates. By possessing such certificates, diving personnel are able to demonstrate that they have been appropriately trained and have the necessary basic knowledge and skills to conduct their work safely and efficiently.  The widespread forgery of diving industry training certificates cannot be allowed to happen as it could clearly have a disastrous impact on the safety performance of our industry.  

IMCA Contact

Bill Chilton
Diving Manager

Fraud, forgery and falsification in the workplace can put people’s lives at risk. Beyond this obvious and pressing concern is the fact that it is against the law. When discovered by enforcing authorities, forgery can, quite rightly, lead to criminal proceedings, resulting in fines, and in the most serious instances, prison.  

IMCA has made strong efforts to provide its Members with useful tools to help them verify the authenticity of training certificates.  

Our Accredited Diving Systems Inspector, Air Diving Supervisor, Bell Diving Supervisor, Life Support Technician and DP Practitioner certificates can now all be checked using IMCA’s online certificate verification portal. In addition, CSWIP underwater inspection certificates issued by The Welding Institute can be verified via the Institute’s own portal, and diver training certificates can be verified by contacting the relevant certifying authority – see IMCA Information Note 1609 Verification of Diver Qualifications for details.

We strongly advise Members to incorporate a formal and robust system for verifying training certificates into their recruitment and HR procedures.

More generally, Members should be looking out for any signs of tampering, such as the misalignment of photos or other security features such as holograms. Another useful check is to confirm that expiry dates align with the known validity periods of industry certificates.  We have noted that the expiry dates on some forged documents are sometimes longer or shorter than the actual duration of the genuine qualification.

IMCA takes forgery detection very seriously and all Membership application submissions are closely scrutinised to ensure that our Membership acceptance criteria are fully met before diving contractor Memberships are approved. Should evidence of forged certification be found in regulated areas of the world, companies or individuals may be reported to the relevant authorities (for example, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the UK) who can work with the police to investigate and prosecute under fraud legislation. We all have a duty to protect our industry from the menace of forgery.