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    • Hal Lomax

      My state has legalized recreational marijuana, so am I OK to smoke some with my buddies before I go offshore?

      DRUGS AND THE WORKING DIVER
       
      RECREATIONAL DRUGS
       
      Many areas worldwide have recently legalized, or have future plans to legalize marijuana (cannabis) for recreational use. How will that affect divers, offshore workers, and transportation workers who now must submit to workplace drug tests? Once it has been legalized, does that mean that it will be OK to smoke pot when you are on your rotation home from offshore?

       
      Client Driven
      Most workplace drug and alcohol testing is client driven. The major oil producers insist that workers at their facilities not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drug testing will not likely decrease and there may well be an increase in drug testing as more jurisdictions legalize marijuana. Clients that have asked for random drug tests in the past may very well insist on regular drug testing of all workers on every rotation.
       
      Why Drug Testing?
      The reason drug testing is performed in many industries is that statistics show that people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or people who have used drugs in the recent past are many times more likely to cause an accident, injure themselves or others on the crew, or damage infrastructure. Think about it for a moment: would you want to be in the chamber, knowing the operator had just smoked a joint? If you get trapped underwater, do you want your standby diver to be stoned when he comes after you? If you answered yes to either one of those questions you are obviously in the wrong industry.
       
      What Happens If You Test Positive?
      The typical response to a positive drug test or a failed alcohol breath test is immediate termination of the employee. If you were driving across the city to work, that would be bad enough. When you are flying for twenty or thirty hours on an airliner to get to work it is far worse. Usually a positive drug test will require the employee to pay for his own flight home and his visa expenses. Unfortunately, I have seen this exact scenario play out in the Middle East, Asia, Europe and Africa. In one case it was a crane operator who drank on a crew boat; the rest were divers who tested positive for recreational drugs. The divers were all flagged by the diving company involved “not for re-hire”, which narrows the field of potential employers, and all had to pay for their flights to their home countries. In the case of the crane operator, that occurred in Turkmenistan and I was told he was arrested when he got back to the port he sailed from. Whether the drugs are legal to use in your home country or not has absolutely no bearing on how the client or contractor will deal with a positive test result. You would do well to remember that.
       
      How Long After Smoking Pot Will I Test Clean?
      Because there are so many variables involved, this question is almost impossible to answer. In testing for marijuana, the age of the subject, his level of activity, his body mass, his metabolism, and his diet all have an effect on the levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that appear in a drug test. Also, the amount used, the frequency of usage, and the method of use all has an effect on the THC levels and how long they are detectable. Another variable is the type of drug test administered. THC typically will show up in a blood test for 2 to 3 days with a casual user, and 7 to 14 days with a heavy user. In a urine test, THC will show in a casual user for 7 to 10 days and in a heavy user for 25 to 100 days. Hair tests will indicate THC in all users for approximately 90 days.
       
      How Can I Beat The Test?
      There have been literally thousands of schemes over the years to beat drug tests. The most memorable one I recall was a diver I worked with in the early 1980s who submitted a urine sample from his sister-in-law. He was informed by the oil company doctor that 1) he was pregnant, and 2) he was suspended without pay for one month. In the early 80s, that was considered a reasonable penalty; today he would be fired. The simple answer is this: there is no foolproof way to beat a drug test. If you are reading this paragraph looking for a way to get around a drug test, you should be asking yourself why? If you are trying to beat a drug test, or are worried about failing a drug test, you should not be going offshore – period.
       
      OVER-THE-COUNTER AND PRESRIPTION MEDICATIONS
       
      Your family doctor knows that you are a commercial diver, so any drugs prescribed by him will be safe to use while you are working underwater, right? Unfortunately that is not necessarily true. Doctors are trained to diagnose and treat injuries, ailments and maladies in people who dwell on the earth’s surface, not below the water’s surface. The General Practitioner, Specialist Physician or Surgeon can not be expected to understand the hyperbaric environment or its effect on the human body or medications because he has not been trained to understand it. That is precisely why we have Hyperbaric Physicians.

       
      Side Effects
      Medicinal side effects by definition are effects other than the intended effects, often causing some harm or discomfort, but judged “acceptable” when weighed against the medical advantage that the particular drug provides. Most over-the-counter and prescription drugs have at least some side effects. These side effects may be mild or almost non-existent at atmospheric pressure, but in a hyperbaric environment they can be harmful or even deadly. We all know about the “rebound effect” and how dangerous it is to use medications to help with equalizing. But how many of us are aware that many drugs have an effect on the heart rate? Gas transfer is accomplished by the heart moving blood between tissues and lungs. Speeding up or slowing down the heart is most definitely going to affect the gas load taken on as well as off-gassing. It is not only gas transfer that needs to be considered; many over-the-counter cold medications have a direct effect on the body’s ability to thermo-regulate. This is a very serious issue both in cold water and in very warm water.
       
      Are Any Medications Safe?
      Obviously the drugs listed in the US Navy Diving Manual’s list and the DMAC list are safe when used for the conditions listed. We know because they have been tested. But many divers are treated for various reasons with medications not on the US Navy or DMAC list. In order to be safe to use, a drug cannot alter cognitive ability, primary physical senses, the heart rate, respiration depth, respiration rate, oxygen or inert gas transfer, or the body’s ability to thermo-regulate, even when the body is subject to increased pressure.
       
      How Do I Find Out If A Drug Is Safe?
      Ideally, the best way to find out if a particular drug is safe to use while diving is to discuss it with a hyperbaric physician. Any diver who has been prescribed a medication by his family physician and plans to take the medication while working should consult a hyperbaric physician. Better to be safe than sorry. But in the case of an over-the-counter medication – what then? The diver should talk to the pharmacist, explaining that he works in a hyperbaric environment and in the water (remember heat transfer happens much faster in water) and find out if the medication could potentially cause problems. Always read the list of side effects for each medication yourself and if you see something that causes concern – ask about it.
       
      Can Prescriptions Have An Effect On Drug Tests?
      The short answer is yes they can. It is always best when you have been prescribed medication to get a letter from the physician to take offshore with you. Then if there is a problem, you at least have a leg to stand on. Some countries now recognize medical marijuana. I have yet to hear of a single oil company that will allow the use of medical marijuana, and I do not ever expect it to be allowed, as it is considered a mind-altering substance. Heavy pain killers typically have codeine or other narcotics and will almost always be picked up in a drug test. A better option would be an acetaminophen or aspirin based pain killer, or better still, time off until the pain has left.
       
      SUMMARY
      If the country where you live has legalized marijuana, stay away from it if you plan to work offshore. If you are on prescription medications, take a list of those (from your doctor) when you go. Before you take any new medication, prescription or over-the-counter, make sure it will be safe to use while diving. And most importantly – if you are on any medications, be sure to tell your Diving Supervisor about it when you arrive offshore and not after something bad has happened.
       
       
       
       
       
       

    • Hal Lomax

      Toolbox Safety Meetings have been around now for about 30 years. Rather than being an out-dated concept, the Toolbox Safety Meeting is more relevant today than it ever was. But are we using them to their full potential?

      THE TOOLBOX SAFETY MEETING
       
       
      HISTORY
      About thirty years ago, a revolutionary change was made in workplace safety; the Toolbox Safety Meeting was introduced. Also called a “Toolbox Talk”, “Tailgate Talk” and “Safety Minute”, these meetings had an almost immediate impact on each and every industry where they were introduced, in that there was a marked decrease in industrial accidents. The reason for this is that, when conducted properly, these Toolbox Safety Meetings encourage active participation by, and input from the front line workers.
       
      PART OF A PROCESS
      With the evolution of the Risk Assessment and Hazard Analysis process in the workplace, there was a further decrease noted in industrial accidents. The Toolbox Safety Meeting, rather than becoming redundant, has fit right into this process, becoming the part of the process where the people who actually perform the work get involved each day.
       
      IMPORTANCE
      The importance of the Toolbox Meeting cannot be over-stressed. A large percentage of workplace fatality investigations show one common and alarming trait: either the Toolbox Safety Meeting was not used, or the meetings were not taken seriously by management or employees and were often totally irrelevant to the tasks being performed. These meetings cause the workers to stop and think about their jobs, the tasks they perform, the hazards and they could face, and how to mitigate or eliminate the hazards. It has been demonstrated that daily meetings keep safety foremost in the minds of the employees so supervisors have a responsibility to ensure the meetings are held, the employees participate, and the topics are relevant.
       
      KEEPING IT RELEVANT
      I was working as Diving Supervisor at one offshore installation when the Safety Officer insisted that the diving crew participate in the platform toolbox meeting and not hold a separate meeting. The topics he showed me included the following: working safely in the galley; housekeeping; working with paint and chemicals; keeping the platform stairwells safe; working at height; and fire prevention on the platform. Although these are all fine topics for platform personnel, they really are not relevant to the diving crew, and therefore I pulled rank and held a separate and dedicated daily toolbox for my diving crew. The Toolbox Meeting, particularly at the start of any given project, needs to address the hazards identified by the Job Hazard Analysis, but it needs to address those hazards that the diving crew will be exposed to. When the diving crew is working closely with other trades, such as during underwater lifting operations, the crane operator and the signalmen (banksmen) need to be included in the Toolbox Meeting along with the divers. If the divers will be working in a differential pressure area such as a hydro dam or a navigation lock, the operators of these facilities also need to be involved in the toolbox. It makes absolutely no sense at all to have a diving crew sitting through a Toolbox Meeting that is discussing how to prevent fires and food poisoning in a galley.
       
      KEEPING IT INTERESTING
      The Diving Supervisor has a legal, moral, and ethical responsibility to do everything within his power to keep his diver and the diving crew safe from harm. It has been demonstrated that a properly conducted Toolbox Meeting will make a huge difference in how the crew performs their jobs, and will help prevent an industrial accident from occurring. So therefore, the Diving Supervisor has a legal and moral responsibility to hold a Toolbox Meeting, and to ensure the crew’s participation in it. If the meeting does not hold crew’s interest, it is a waste of time. The Toolbox Meeting needs to be seen for what it really is: an opportunity to teach the diving crew the safe way to perform tasks, and to refresh their memory. It is not a chance to talk about football scores, check text messages, or log into facebook.
       
      As stated earlier, the Job Hazard Analysis fits into, and goes along with the Toolbox Meeting. But what if you are on a long term project and nothing is changing day-to-day? What if you are on a pipelay barge doing the odd stinger check or you are just performing the exact same tasks every day? Anyone who works with divers will tell you the first thing you learn is they all suffer from ADD or ADHD. You have to work hard to keep their attention, and repetition of the same information every day is not going to do the trick. When I am on the job as Diving Superintendent, I always provide my Supervisors with a list of relevant toolbox topics that they can either follow or pick from. Yes, when the crew is changing to a new operation you definitely want to perform a Job Hazard Analysis and a related Toolbox. And periodically throughout each project this information needs to be reviewed. But constant repetition is just going to make the Toolbox Meeting into Diver’s Nap Time, and that will do nothing to keep the lads safe and avoid accidents. One way of keeping the attention of the crew is to avoid repetition of subject matter. The other way is to get them involved. You were not hired to be a preacher or a politician, so do not make speeches. Talk to the crew and get their input. It is a great way to find out what they know and what they don’t. In a toolbox talk I held offshore Louisianna, I discovered that half of my crew did not know how to check the polarity of cutting or welding gear. That gave me a chance to teach them how to check polarity, and teach them why it is important to have the correct polarity. And that brings us to another issue: the Diving Supervisor should make sure he is teaching his crew correctly when teaching them tasks. So the responsible Diving Supervisor will do a quick read-up on the topic he is using for the toolbox, and that reading up should not be Google or Wikipedia, but a proper diver training manual, the US Navy Diving Manual or a corporate diving manual based on the US Navy Manual.
       
       
      TOOLBOX TOPICS
       
      Deploying the standby diver – how to do it right
      Recognizing signs and symptoms of hypothermia
      Proper hydration for divers in warm weather
      Proper PPE for the job you are performing
      High pressure lines and whip checks
      Avoiding back injuries on the job and at home
      Umbilical management
      Safe handling of oxygen
      Loss of communications to the diver
      Lock-out Tag-out when working on vessels
      Good housekeeping around the diving spread
      PMS – why the Planned Maintenance System is important to divers
      Loss of air supply to the diver and how to deal with it
      Emergency drills – they can save your life
      Recognizing the signs and symptoms of Decompression Sickness
      Lifting underwater loads with a crane safely
      Safety tips for burning with Broco gear
      CONVENTID – the signs and symptoms of CNS Oxygen Toxicity
      Recovery of an injured diver – how we do it
      The Pre-Dive Checks on the diver --- take them seriously
      Proper Procedure for diving and deck operations at night
      Slips, Trips and Falls
      Working at height (and doing it right)
      CO Carbon Monoxide – the silent killer
      Life Jackets, Work Vests and Floatation Devices
      Prescription Drugs and Diving – what you need to know
      Differential Pressure and the diver
      Electrical Safety around the dive spread
      Personal Fitness for the diver
      Working over the side (greasing LARS, etc.)
      The importance of Chamber Maintenance
      Fire prevention in the Dive Control van
      The Job Hazard Analysis (JHA)
      Awareness of your surroundings can keep you alive
      The right tool for the job
      Stop and think BEFORE you act
      Safety when using air or hydraulic powered tools
      Stored energy – hidden danger awaits (rope, cable and chain under strain)
      Contingency Planning – it may save your life
       
       

    • John Roat

      18 years of effort and still no changes to US Coast Guard CFR's


      National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee
      Regulatory Reform Diving Subcommittee
      Teleconference Meeting #1 (NOSAC Meeting)
      Agenda
      Objectives
      1. Review task statement, purpose of subcommittee; establish subcommittee objectives
      2. Discuss how subcommittee will go about the task (spreadsheet, division of regulations, bi-weekly assignments, etc.)
      3. Go through regulations to be reviewed by next meeting
      4. Action Items for participants
       
      We will be having the first Teleconference Thursday, September 7tn I will keep you appraised of the situation
       
      .
      You can find 18 years of wasted work and effort here. Commercial Diving Operations - Advanced Notice of Proposed
       
      Rulemaking(ANPRM
       
       
      You will find attached below the Official Task Statement
       
       
      For more information, please contact:
       
      Patrick W. Clark
      (202) 372-1358,
      Patrick.w.clark@uscg.mil
      Commandant (CG-OES-2), U.S. Coast Guard
      2703 Martine Luther King Jr Ave, SE, Stop 7509
      Washington, DC 20593-7509
       
      I am a member of the Subcommittee and will keep you posted as to our progress. If you have not signed my petition as of yet please do so here:
       
      Protect Divers Lives
       
       
      FACA RRTF Official Task Statement 17Jul2017_FINAL.pdf

    • John Roat

      gallery_2_1_1394.jpg

      In November 2005 I wrote an article for Offshore Diver called FEAST Time. There was more work than we could possibly do. We had had the Twin hurricanes, divers from all over the world were working in the GOM. There was more work than we had trained commercials divers for. A quote from that article to start this one: “To the loved ones and dive team members of the three young men we have lost recently there is little we can say that will help you. What we can do is make it a better business, which may help your soul a little and the rest of us a lot. The best safety out there is watching each other’s backs. The Coast Guard and OSHA show up after the fact, neither the ADC or IMCA have any enforcement mechanism and they damn well don't want one either.”

      Nothing I wrote in that article has changed, except, all the experienced dive personnel we have lost from this industry. (SEE That Article here) I believe we have reached the bottom of the worst Famine Time I have been through since coming into the Oil patch in 1969.
       
      My biggest fear is another major event such as our Twin Hurricanes anywhere in a major oil field on this earth. We do not have the experienced Dive personal, up to date DSV's or the tools ready to handle that. The history of these type events that we have been through many times is: Our customers just want their problem cured, whatever work rules they have, are out the window. So what do we do?
       
      It is on us, the Dive Supervisor, not the Designated person-in-charge (DPIC), the Project manager anyone else, not even the diver. Our number one job is to get them down and back safely out of the chamber. So whether anyone else on the job or in the office likes it we, the guys sitting in that chair, have to be willing to shut it down.
       
      You can almost hear the old movie theme from Jaws, playing in the back ground. I do hope this Famine doesn't end like so many in the past have, instant FEAST!
       
      PS: An important message to Management. You do not build an Effective, Safe, Team by surrounding yourself with people afraid to tell you the truth or are just plain liars, cover their own butts types!

    • John Roat
      What most of you and your customers do not know about Rod Selection
       

       
      Classes I teach!
      1) Safety in Oxy Arc Burning: Everyone involved in Oxy-Arc Burning 16 hours, with night study
      2) Safety in Oxy Arc Burning & Practical: Divers with three years experience. 40 Hours with night study.
      3) Customer Introduction to Safe Oxy-Arc Burning: When you should and when you SHOULD NOT use Oxy-Arc Burning. For customers of Burning services 4 hours their location. For this Class contact John Carl Roat vicepresident@jcroat.com
       

    • John Roat

      Ass&Fisk.jpg

      Prior to his death, our Board Member John Joly recognized that for working dive personnel the business was changing. With that in mind, he worked closely with Johnny Fisk & Wil Sig of Fisk Marine Insurance so dive personnel can get personal insurances independent of employers.

      "Fisk Marine & Colonial Life Underwriting Department has done what others will not do and that is to provide much needed individual coverages for commercial divers via the Divers Association". These benefits include short-term disability, on and off the job accident policy, life insurance, and a cancer program."
       
      I know we are not used to dealing with our own Insurance but our business, Commercial Diving as we have known it,  is changing. We need to change with it. I have known Wil Sigl for several years and he does know our business and how to help us through the morass of acquiring our own insurance.  Contact Wil Sigl wsigl@fiskusa.com
       
      Visit www.DisabilityCanHappen.org to learn more about the risk of disability and the benefits of having disability insurance.
      Visit www.disabilitycounter.org to view the number of working-age Americans who experienced a disabling injury or illness.
      Visit www.lifehappens.org to learn more about the benefits of having life insurance.
      Fisk Marine Int. is working with other providers to make this available outside North America stay tuned. https://fiskusa.com/blog/
       
       
       

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  • Latest Incident Follow Up Posts

    • Looks like they are definitely still in business. I can't understand how a company like this can kill a diver and just shut their eyes and go on about business. They know that the only way to stop these stupid accidents from happening is to come forth with details, yet they circle the wagons and cover everything up. So the next time when the same thing happens, these people are equally at fault. Then I have to wonder - where is IMCA in this? Why did they not investigate and release findings to avoid a repeat of this?
    • This is their web page talking it say theyhave contracts https://www.mammoet.com/en/news/
    • I would push to have the Labour Board examine NS Power's role in the incident. You will note I did not call it an accident, because in my opinion it was not. 
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