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PSD Teams and OSHA, NFPA compliance

Discussion in 'Public Safety Divers/Search and Rescue' started by RatHatDiver, Apr 21, 2009.

  1. BladesRobinson

    BladesRobinson ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    I apologize if I offended anyone on the forum (including Stimpy) and certainly I did not question anyone who stated that their PSD program assisted in meeting NFPA compliance. I was calling out those who claim that their training "meets the #### standard."

    To those people who claim that their PSD dive training would fully allow participants to be NFPA compliant, that would not be entirely factual since it takes a whole lot to be compliant and ONLY the AHJ can determine the "levels of operational capability needed" in order for the training to be compliant.

    The training offered by a contractor may "assist" in meeting NFPA compliance but to be fully compliant, the team must do a whole lot, including a hazard assessment of their response area. A training program (likely) does not include on-site visits to all sites in a response area for a hazard assessment. A training contractor likely does not provide BLS training, though some may require first aid and CPR as a minimum requirement to take a program. If that's the case, fine ... I am not drawing attention to "that" contractor, I am referencing others.

    Essentially though, it is "buyer beware" because some hanging a "PSD training shingle" don't know a whole lot about public safety diving (my opinion).

    My other point is, all too often a person will read one section of the NFPA document and draw a conclusion without reading the entire document, cover to cover, and without referencing all of the other NFPA documents that are cited.

    I draw my conclusion based on personal observations and the knowledge that when a person calls to order a NFPA document, they often order only one document (even though "diving" is referenced in both 1006 and 1670) and are not interested in the other documents that are referenced.

    I am sorry if some fail to see the humor and again, I am not calling out any individuals on this forum as I only know a handful and many go by screen names. I only share my casual observations on this point and I am trying to educate the person who asked the original question on this thread.


    Blades Robinson
  2. BladesRobinson

    BladesRobinson ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    TC, regarding your last post and the differences between CalOSHA and federal OSHA, I believe the intent is similar but serves to close a loophole that some commercial contractors were seeking.

    Apparently, some contractors were claiming they were working under the control of a government agency so they should be exempt or that they were providing emergency services. I believe CalOSHA clarified that and stated they were NOT exempt and included "and performed by employees of a state or local governmental agency" language in thier regulations. This was further clarified in the OSHA Directive Number CPL 02-00-143 dated August 11, 2006.

    Volunteer PSDs (to my knowledge) are also OSHA exempt and are considered (in most states) to be "employed" by the AHJ even though technically they recieve no compensation. If the AHJ carries insurance, provides death benefits, or gives other "compensation" for the service (besides a paycheck) I believe many consider them to be "employees."

    This may (likely) vary state to state and an attorney that works for a municipality would likely be the best person to ask. I am not a "non-lawyer spokesperson" and my experience is limited to the number of nights I have spent at a Holiday Inn and the number of days I sought information from well qualified attorneys who have provided guidance.

    And for the benefit of others, some states do regulate public safety diving by adopting the OSHA standard and removing the PSD exemption. This is what Florida did in 1994 and the decision had to be reversed later.

    Thank you for doing homework on your end and citing CalOSHA. I too am awaiting a call from Butler.

  3. cerich

    cerich ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Georgia
    then NOBODY will ever be compliant. It is beyond reasonable to expect that any agency would have conducted a hazard assessment of every possible dive site, in matter of fact many times PSD is required simply because the area involved was never even wet before!

    Again I think your understanding of BLS is incorrect
  4. Thalassamania

    Thalassamania Diving Polymath ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: On a large pile of smokin' A'a, the most isolated
    Blades, your take on volunteers is, I believe, correct. It is in line with my understanding of volunteers with respect to research divining operations. It does amaze me how many people think that in both our worlds that if you are volunteer, somehow, you are exempt without having to meet any of the administration, training or qualification criteria.
  5. BladesRobinson

    BladesRobinson ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    I won't beat a dead horse here but only suggest that forum members who want to learn more should stop by a fire department in their region and ask if they can read the NFPA documents previously referenced (cover to cover) and ask for the department's interpretation. As I stated earlier, both DRI and the IADRS has been a sponsor of one of the committee members for the past 12 years and I personally attended the Orlando NFPA meeting where we delivered an updated version of the IADRS Watermanship test to the committee for approval.

    "Cerich" is correct in the conclusion that it is difficult for agencies to be 100% compliant and I will go on to add it is impossible for a three day program offered by the #### training contractor to assure that an agency will be compliant at the conclusion of their program. A contractor that states that, and an agency that believes that, does not (in my opinion) have a good understanding of the NFPA standard and may want to consider attending an IADRS conference. At the IADRS Conferences we often discuss these standards in detail with the authors and voting committee members.

    When the standard states that "Medical care shall be provided for victims of rescue operations and shall be, as a minimum, at the basic life support (BLS) level" then somone trained to the BLS level needs to be on scene and capable of delivering BLS, in order to be compliant.

    If the AHJ wants to use a mutual aid company to provide BLS service, that is okay.

    But for a dive instructor to simply state that an organization will be NFPA complaint after attending a three day program is not entirely accurate. I think "cerich" and I may have a similar understanding on the ability to deliver BLS at the scene of a rescue. I am guessing where we differ is when Joe Schmo (PSD instructor) tells a chief his team will "meet a standard" or will "be fully compliant with a standard" after X days of training points to a lack of understanding of what the standard states.

    If it was as simple as taking a X day class or covering XX hours of training, then a lot of departments would be compliant.

    As "cerich" alludes above, very few departments ARE complaint. The reason is because it is very difficult to be 100% compliant.

    I spent 27 years on the job trying to meet the standard and the bar is very high.

    I see "cerich" is from Georgia so I went online to pull up fire insurance ratings of communities in the Atlanta area. While the ISO rating is a completely different animal from "meeting the NFPA standard" it points to the level of difficulty it is to be in "perfect" compliance. Knowing that "1" is perfect, Atlanta FD has a rating of 4, Gwinnette County FD also has a rating of 4, and both DeKalb County FD and Fulton County FD have a rating of 3. See the following for ISO ratings around Atlanta: City of Atlanta Online

    Agencies around the country are striving to be in 100% compliance and this will help to assure the best level of service and highest level of safety. In the same manner that some agencies are okay with an ISO rating of 3 and others with a rating of 4, some agencies are okay being 90% compliant or 80% compliant, with a goal of one day being 100% compliant.

    The bottom line (again) is that the Authority Having Jurisdiction, with the input of citizens and council members establish their level of service, not the PSD scuba instructor or the PSD training agency. So stating that the #### training program meets a **** standard or assures that an agency will be NFPA compliant is not accurate.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2010
  6. stimpy4242

    stimpy4242 Instructor, Scuba

    I know the horse is black and blue, but if someone states NFPA compliant they can simply mean as it applies to the dive only section of NFPA 1670 which I do own and subscribe to the standards since I am also a fire and ems instructor in my state of maryland.

    So while you are right there appears a lot of references in each section of NFPA standards the spirit of the intent is that for instance a program is meeting the following as stated in NFPA 1670: Organizations operating at the technician level at dive search and rescue incidents shall meet the
    requirements specified in 9.3.6 and 9.4.6.
    9.3.6 Dive. Organizations operating at the operations level at dive incidents shall develop and implement procedures
    for the following:
    (1)* Recognizing the unique hazards associated with dive operations
    (2)* Serving as surface support personnel
    (3) Identifying water characteristics
    (4)* Operating surface support equipment used in water operations
    (5) Procuring the necessary equipment to perform dive operations
    (6) Safe entry and recovery of divers from the water
    (7)* Participating in safe dive operations in any climate the organization can encounter
    9.4.6 Dive.* Certification.* For all diving members of a technician level organization, the AHJ shall ensure provision of certification
    by a nationally recognized agency. The curriculum for such certification shall be oriented toward the needs and operational requirements of
    public safety diving as defined herein.* For all diving members of a technician level organization, an annual fitness test, Watermanship/Skills Test,
    and Basic Scuba Skills Evaluation supplied by International Association of Dive Rescue Specialists (IADRS) shall
    be conducted to maintain public safety diver capability. Organizations operating at the technician level at dive incidents shall develop and implement procedures for
    the following:
    (1)* Skin and SCUBA diving, including the use of any associated equipment
    (2) Applying an understanding of physics and physiology as it relates to the underwater environment
    (3)* Using dive tables
    (4) Dealing with the various underwater environments with which the rescue diver could come into contact
    (5) Avoiding and dealing with underwater plants and animals
    (6) Conducting and supervising dive operations
    (7) Using accepted search techniques
    (8)* Identification and management of dive-related maladies including psychological and physiological stress,
    air embolism, and decompression sickness
    (9) Recognizing and managing the impact of near-drowning in cold water
    (10)* Utilizing electronic communications within full-face mask equipment during operations
    (11)* Utilizing redundant and alternate air sources during low- or out-of-air emergencies
    (12)* Utilizing full-body encapsulation equipment, including dry suits, dry hoods, and dry gloves with full-face
    mask in contaminated water
    (13)* Rescuing an entangled diver
    (14)* Medical monitoring of divers
    (15)* Recovering evidence including locating, securing, and packaging evidence, documenting and maintaining
    the chain of custody, and documenting the scene

    Also keep in mind that a lot of the NFPA wording says things like "in order to" or "organizations operating at...must meet..." That doesn't mean a training program for dive has to accomplish all those tasks, it means the organization has to ensure that they are accomplished.

    So when a PSD program says this program is NFPA compliant they mean as it specifically applies to that part of the NFPA standard...now if they are asked and they say, "No all you need is our program and you meet every part of NFPA 1670, obviously they are incorrect.

    To further show examples of this point, when someone said classes that advertise OSHA compliant were wrong since they aren't even covered...I thought I would ask my organization, ERDi why they put this.

    The answer was decent enough, for those teams that aren't a government agency or under the control of one...well that is fair enough. As we pointed out there are some PSD teams that are private contractors and such...so I can see how this would once again apply...and when I looked at the curriculum sure enough they do meet those requirements. An answer about NFPA compliance was given similar to how I stated above.
  7. BladesRobinson

    BladesRobinson ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    So when the #### training company states their training is compliant with NFPA, they are picking and choosing specific parts of a NFPA document to comply with, and they are not complaint with the ENTIRE document, nor are they compliant with other NFPA standards. I suspect it is a matter of semantics but some (including myself) find that misleading.

    So using the same logic, an entry level SCUBA program offered through the ABCD dive company could also state they too are NFPA compliant since they choose to follow part of the standard too, specifically NFPA 1670, section, paragraphs 1-5. They don't comply with Sections 2, 3, or 4 of the 1670 standard and they don't comply with NFPA 1006 or any other NFPA standards.

    Beating the proverbial horse a little harder I'll add another "two cents" ...
    NFPA 1670, Section 4.1.5 reads, "It is not the intent of this document to have an organization deem itself capable of an advanced skill level in any of the disciplines defined herein simply by training ..."

    The bottom line is, some make exaggerated claims in the PSD community and it is up to the PSD consumer to determine which parts of the claims are accurate. To the credit of ERDI, they do comply with many parts of of the NFPA 1670 standard, as does Dive Rescue International.

    ALSO... for the purpose of clarification, I mentioned in a previous post that in order for divers to be NFPA compliant, divers would need to have some rope rescue training.

    Some stated I was wrong ...

    I was unaware that we were only picking selected parts of the NFPA to comply with, but NFPA 1006, Paragraph 13.1 clearly reads "...The job performance requirements defined in Chapters 4, 5, and 11 and 13.1.1 through 13.1.8 shall be met prior to Level 1 qualification in dive rescue."

    For the benefit of those who may have thought I was mistaken and for those who do not have NFPA 1006 at their finger tips, I will point out that Chapter 5, section 5 covers "Ropes/Rigging" and in that section, personnel must be able to tie knots, bends and hitches (5.5.1.B); construct a single point anchor system (5.5.2); construct mechanical advantage systems (5.5.4); function as a litter tender in a low angle lowering or hauling system (5.5.7); operate a belay system (5.5.12); belay a falling load in a high-angle environment (5.5.13) ... just some of the rope/rigging skills that are required.

    So to be NFPA compliant, a Level 1 rescue diver must have both "requisite skills" and "requisite knowledge" in Ropes/Rigging. (Unless an agency/instructor chooses to ignore that part too. :no: )

    Again, it is up to the PSD consumer to determine which parts of the claims made by instructors/agencies are accurate. The readers of this forum can be assured that my statements (all parts) are based on fact ... unless make a mistake :d.


    Blades Robinson
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2010
  8. stimpy4242

    stimpy4242 Instructor, Scuba

    Blades I think I will just leave this be you are convinced that when someone puts NFPA compliant it means they have to be compliant with the entire standard. Not that perhaps there program meets the requirements of say the dive portion of NFPA 1670.

    You might as well go ahead and right letters to companies like globe manufacturing and rocky boots since they also call their equipment NFPA compliant even though the NFPA standard for PPE is all in one standard...I guess a shoe company can't call their boot NFPA compliant since they apparently have to be able to provide full turn out gear to anyone who buys the boot since the standard talks about all types of PPE.

    If I am teaching a rope rescue class it doesn't mean I cover all parts of 1006 too...yet magically my rope rescue class is NFPA compliant...because it is meeting the parts of the standard that deal with rope rescue...
  9. BladesRobinson

    BladesRobinson ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    I think rigor is setting into the proverbial "dead horse" so I will assist in the autopsy at this point...

    Philip, there is nothing "magical" in teaching a NFPA 1006 compliant rope rescue class, but I will ask if you use NFPA approved rope, NFPA approved harnesses, and NFPA approved carabiners, etc. during your training programs.

    I ask because if you only read Chapter 6 (the part of the standard that addresses Rope Rescue), there is nothing that states that you should.

    Where the NFPA standard states "Performance of each requirement shall be in accordance with applicable NFPA standards and occupational health and safety regulations" is in Chapter 1, specifically paragraph 1.3.5.

    If one only jumps to Chapter 6 for information and they don't read the previous chapters, they might say they were NFPA compliant and use manila rope, and block and tackle systems from the local hardware store since there is nothing in Chapter 6 that states one can't. So I am hopeful some ScubaBoard forum members can understand why it is important to read the entire document, primarily so one knows exactly what applies.

    The words "anchor point, belay, and highline system" appear in Chapter 6 too, but the definitions appear in Chapter 3 and some of the definitions in Chapter 3 reference other NFPA standards or the appendix section.

    So my point is (again) that the entire document is important and one cannot pick and choose parts of the document in order to boast that they are "NFPA compliant."

    I hope all forum members understand my point and I am hopeful that some advertising "NFPA compliant rope rescue training" aren't using manila rope for life safety, as that could be done if one only followed the language in Chapter 6.

    At this point, in order to save the sanctity of the ScubaBoard, let's take further discussion on this topic "off list," or give me a call.


    Blades Robinson
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2010
  10. leam

    leam Solo Diver

    My apologies for adding a question, but the steaming pile of glue that once was a horse leads me to seek clarification.

    Am I correct in believing, from reading here, that:

    1. Acting as a local volunteer PSD team member, performing PSD work such as search and recovery, keeps me exempt from Federal OSHA?

    2. That my team, even if not 100% NFPA compliant, can perform our PSD duties.
    2.a. This is said with the understanding that we will make reasonable efforts to attain and maintain NFPA compliance with all relevant standards.



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