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Scientific Diving & Boating Safety

All diving for research or coursework associated with the University of Maryland, through any UMD department or program, must be conducted under the University of Maryland's Scientific Diving Program. Scientific diving is defined (29 CFR 1910.402) as diving performed solely as a necessary part of a scientific, research, or educational activity by employees whose sole purpose for diving is to perform scientific research tasks.

Scientific diving and boating safety information on this website is provided to faculty, staff, students and volunteers who conduct scientific dives under the auspices of the University of Maryland. If you are unsure whether or not University regulations apply to your diving situation, please contact the Diving Safety Officer (DSO) by email or at 301.405.3960.

Information for New Divers Entering the UMD Scientific Diving Program

New scientific divers wishing to enter the University of Maryland's Scientific Diving Program should allow plenty of time to complete the program requirements. All application materials and medical forms are contained in the Program Application Packet.

Divers entering University of Maryland with a current scientific diving certification from another AAUS organizational member may be granted reciprocity, and should arrange for verification of their status by their previous DSO.

Diving Safety
Scientific Diving & Boat Safety

Information for Current UMD Scientific Divers

It is the responsibility of the scientific diver to maintain active status by meeting requirements and filing paperwork in a timely fashion, whether or not reciprocity is needed.

To maintain active scientific diver status:
  • Submit a dive plan for any UMD scientific diving activity. A dive plan must also be turned in to the DSO before requesting reciprocity to dive with another institution.
  • Submit a Vessel Operations Float Plan for any UMD scientific diving activity that involves boating.
  • Keep your First aid, CPR, and oxygen provider training current as per the training agencies.
  • Scientific divers must log a minimum of 12 dives per year, with at least one dive in a six-month period. In addition, maintaining depth certifications beyond 60 ft. requires at least one dive in a six-month period to a depth near that certification level.
  • Submit dive logs to the DSO at the end of each month.
  • Renew diving physical every 5 years (if under 40 years old); every 3 years (40 and older); every 2 years (60 and older).
  • Successfully complete the HAZMAT Pressurized Cylinders online training every 3 years.
  • When gear is serviced for repairs or annual maintenance, please retain required documentation, which may be requested by the Dive Safety Office.
  • Report any diving injury or incident to the DSO as soon as possible.

Scientific Diving - Reciprocity

Diver performing work underwater

The Diving Safety Program at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) was established to support and oversee scientific diving activities conducted under the auspices of the University. The program strives to provide comprehensive safety and training standards and guidelines for scientific divers. Through these standards and guidelines, scientists can achieve their research goals while minimizing the risk of diving-related injury and illness. The standards also provide for working reciprocity between the UMD and other institutions involved in scientific diving.

The Diving Safety Program at UMD was created, in part, as a response to OSHA regulations for commercial diving. OSHA exempted scientific diving from commercial diving regulations under certain conditions. In addition to following the guidelines of the OSHA exemption, the Diving Safety Program at UMD follows scientific diving standards as set forth by the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS). AAUS is recognized by OSHA as the standard setting organization for scientific diving (Federal Register, Vol. 50, No.60, p.1046).

The Diving Safety Program operates under the guidance of the Diving Control Board and is represented in its day-to-day operations by the Diving Safety Officer. All diving conducted under the auspices of the UMD is subject to the standards established by the Diving Control Board as described in the UMD Diving Safety Manual.

Boating Safety

UMD employees operating motorized or non-motorized vessels under the auspices of the University must comply with applicable state and federal regulations. Boaters must complete the Small Boat Experience Questionnaire and file a float plan with ESSR at least 7 days prior to the outing. Questions about boating requirements may be directed to the Dive Safety Office.