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IMCA publishes guidance for surface swimmers

Published:  05 May, 2021

The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) has published a new guidance document ‘Surface Swimmers’ (IMCA D 066).

Historically surface swimmers have been used to complete a variety of offshore work tasks in the field and this new guidance provides firm recommendations for matters to be considered when planning surface swimming operations; PPE for the surface swimmer and the standby swimmer; limitations on surface swimming; operational planning; operational support; and, very importantly, information on when and where surface swimmers should not be used.

As Phil Towers, IMCA’s technical adviser – diving and lifting (pictured), explained:

“In 2012, IMCA published information note IMCA D 04/12 ‘Surface Swimmers’. This presented the view that surface swimming was an inappropriate technique for offshore construction activities. We have now adjusted our position in line with other industry guidance and withdrawn all Information Notes on the topic.

“Our short and easy to read guidance document is an important safety aid for surface swimmer work tasks often conducted from a small craft or from the side of a barge or vessel. These tasks include:

• Inspection work on floating hoses

• Installation or maintenance work on floating hoses

• Work in and around SBMs

• Work associated with pipelaying operations, and

• Work in the splash zone area

“We emphasise in IMCA D 066 that surface swimming should not be used where the requirement is for a person to place their head under water; and should be a daylight only activity. Fully equipped divers operating in accordance with IMCA’s ‘International code of practice for offshore diving’ (IMCA D 014) should always be used in such circumstances. The safety of the swimmers is of paramount importance. Other restrictions are covered in the ‘Limitations’ section of the new guidance and should be strictly adhered observed.”

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