Scuba Instructor, Tinkerer in Brass
- Reaction score
- Napa, California
- # of dives
- 500 - 999
The heavy hand of [French] government...The sticker was the solution for years. Now every [Visually Inspected] tank is registered on a national data base, run by the FFESSM and you get a pdf sheet for it. Any filling station can check the data base as well.
Mark Gresham is adamant about U.S. standards and checklists and safety. The class mantra is "No Explosions". He has developed a reputation as an unyielding stickler for standards, and many folks allege that PSI-PCI is a machine used to churn out inspectors who love to condemn tanks.
Nothing could be further from the truth. He is on OUR side. Both divers and shops. His company is regularly consulted by most tank mfrs, CGA, OSHA, NASA and the military. He testifies regularly on behalf of shops who have done the right thing, but are sued by an unhappy or injured customer.
And the one single thing he fears is that the heavy hand of OSHA will come down on the dive industry in the name of safety. It will arrive complete with efficient government enforcers of already-nonsensical standards that are 30 years behind the times when it comes to (the niche industry of) scuba. At present, we are self-regulated, even if the CGA is frustrating with standards like "requiring a Vis for a gas change."
When the black hats arrive to check your tank's vis currency on a national database like France, expect fill costs to go up, insurance costs to go up, cave fills to disappear, training costs to skyrocket and innovation to decrease.
He points out regularly that despite the existence of (for example) carbon fiber technology and small, lightweight 8,000 psi industrial tanks, scuba divers are "cheap and creative." Translated, that means there are not insignificant numbers of divers on the left side of the bell curve who are surprised when a quart of rust falls out of their steel tank when it is finally inspected after ten years of fills "by a tech diver friend", and fails hydro (that is 5 years past due). That also means that there are dozens of shops who won't fill an aluminum tank older than 1990, no matter what the hydro said, or are requiring eddy current testing on Catalina aluminum tanks (at an extra charge) even though there has NEVER been a case of SLC (Sustained Load Cracking) on a 6061alloy tank.
Weeding out the greedy and the stupid from our community is currently a volunteer effort. Be careful what you wish for if you want the government's help. Be even more worried if you want permission to avoid a "required inspection" mandated for the wrong reason by an industry that doesn't understand scuba and hyperfiltered breathing gas, but does understand protecting welders that have only just finished high school.
Right now, we have manufacturers happy to sell us regs "Nitrox ready" up to 40% O2 and 3000psi. Regulated industries live under HAZMAT rules that define a hazardous gas as anything over 23.5% O2 and 29 psi. That's right, 29 psi. Maybe I'll not complain about a mandated vis to change my tank back to Air from Nitrox any more. I can learn to legally Vis it myself for $250. Or I can pay for the $5 vis charge (and the new burst disc, and the fill) and just call it overhead. After a few years, the cost ends up the same.