Legal Background of Scientific Diving

Scientific diving in Germany includes all diving work in a professional scientific and filmmaking journalistic environment. This includes e.g. archaeological excavations, zoological or botanical sampling, scientific photo and film documentation, sediment sampling, geological work etc.

All persons who dive for professional reasons (regardless of whether freelance, employed or in training) must provide proof of the „certified research diver“ qualification regulated by the professional association.

The legal basis for research diving is largely based on the accident prevention regulation „Diving Work“ (BGV C23) for professional divers. This regulation was adapted to the specific purposes of research diving and is now valid as the rule “ Operation of research divers“ (BGR/GUV-R 101-023). This regulates the training and practice of diving in a scientific environment.

Since January 2006, sport diving certificates can be recognised in Germany as part of the training to become a „certified research diver“. However, sport diving certificates do not in any way replace the training to become a „certified research diver“ conducted by a training centre recognised by the employers‘ liability insurance association in conjunction with a comprehensive final examination before the examination board for research divers at the DGUV.

Why research diving and not recreational diving?

As part of their training, research divers gain the ability to work safely and professionally on a scientific task under water. Research divers are deployed on the basis of the provisions of the Seventh Book of the German Social Law Code (SGB VII) in conjunction with the regulations and rules of the employers‘ liability insurance association issued on the basis of SGB VII, as well as state laws and ordinances, such as:

Occupational Health and Safety Act (ArbSchG). Occupational Safety Act (AsiG)
Industrial Safety Ordinance (BetrSichV)
Machinery Ordinance (9th ProdSV)
Working Hours Act (ArbZG)
Workplace Ordinance (ArbStättV)

According to this, it is the responsibility of the employer to assess the working conditions in his company from the point of view of occupational health and safety and to take protective measures in accordance with the hazards identified, taking into account certain principles. These measures must be checked for their effectiveness and adapted to new developments and findings. The occupational safety situation in the enterprise shall be made transparent by keeping documents available. In its occupational safety and health measures, the employer shall cooperate with the employees, works councils and skilled workers. He informs the employees about hazards at the workplace and instructs them. However, employees not only have the classic duties such as operating equipment properly and following the instructions of their superiors, but they must also report any hazards they identify to the employer without delay and cooperate in the implementation of protective measures. However, they must also not suffer any disadvantages if they complain about inadequate protective measures and remove themselves from the workplace in the event of serious, immediate and unavoidable danger. Employees have the right to make proposals on all occupational health and safety issues.

The term „employer“: For the scientific sector, the term „employer“ is defined in Section 136 (3) of the Social Code VII (SGB VII). It includes the managers of scientific institutions who directly or indirectly arrange for research diving work to be carried out (right to direct / issue instructions). In addition to institute directors, this can also include project managers, department heads or supervisors of diploma or doctoral students.

Within the scope of their entrepreneurial responsibility, the above-mentioned group of persons is also liable for possible consequences from breaches or neglect of duty if personal injury (occupational accident) occurs as a result.

In this case, the statutory accident insurance institution has the possibility of claiming the expenses incurred from the responsible person within the framework of regress proceedings. Under certain circumstances, these claims may be borne by an employer’s liability or professional indemnity insurance, which in most cases, however, results in a significant increase in the insurance premium. The entitlement of the accident-injured insured person to benefits from the responsible statutory accident insurance institution remains unaffected by this, i.e. the necessary expenses for curative treatment, rehabilitation, remedies and aids or also pensions due to reduction of earning capacity exist irrespective of any possible recourse proceedings.

21.11.2012, Martin Voigt, Dipl. Ing. c/o Berufsgenossenschaft der Bauwirtschaft, – Prävention Berlin -.

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