Rules on diving and caisson work

Published by:
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Are you active in diving and caisson work? There are various occupational risks (in Dutch) involved in diving. Divers work under excess pressure, and in hazardous locations (cold water and ship traffic). They also do heavy work and come into contact with chemical substances or polluted water. Therefore, the work must follow specific rules.

Reporting diving and caisson work

Does your company want to carry out diving or caisson work? You must report this to the Netherlands Labour Authority (Nederlandse Arbeidsinspectie, NLA, in Dutch) if the work:

  • takes place at a depth of more than 9 meters
  • takes place with a current flowing faster than 0.5 meters per second
  • is expected to involve decompression
  • will be carried out using breathing gas other than air
  • lasts more than a week
  • is for the underground extractive industry or extractive industry extracting minerals by drilling

The Netherlands Labour Authority must receive your report at least 5 working days before the work starts. You need to include a copy of the work plan with your report. You can use the same online form (in Dutch) for reporting both caisson work and diving activities. You need eHerkenning (at least level EH3) or an authorisation from the labour authority to use the form. You can apply for this authorisation online (in Dutch).

Do you perform diving activities for mining, wind farms, or mineral extraction? You can report these activities to the State Supervision of Mines (Staatstoezicht op de Mijnen, SodM) through

Certification and safety measures

Do you work under excess pressure? You need a personal certificate (in Dutch) from a recognised training institution (in Dutch) if you are a:

  • diver
  • dive team leader
  • medical diving supervisor/diving medical attendant
  • diving physician

Most certificates are valid for 4 years, except for the Medical Diving Supervisor certificate which is valid for 2 years. You have to renew your certificate after this period. You have to prove you have continuous professional experience to be eligible for renewal. The Foundation Working under Hyberbaric Conditions (Stichting Werken onder Overdruk, SOWD) keeps a public register of certificate holders (in Dutch).

A spare diver and a team leader must be present at all times when diving work is carried out. The divers, spare diver, and team leader must all hold the relevant work certificates. In addition, someone must be present who holds a 'Medical Supervision of Diving' certificate. All certificates must be kept at the work location. Every diver must keep a diver’s log.

When doing caisson work, you must keep a valid 'Diving and Caisson Equipment Maintenance System' certificate at the work location. A certified diving physician must examine your employees annually in a work-related medical examination.

Foreign employees

For divers, dive team leaders, diving physicians, and diver medical attendants from abroad who want to work in the Netherlands the same requirements apply as for Dutch workers. This applies to temporary or occasional work as well as for permanent jobs.

You can have your certificate assessed and approved by a certifying body:

For civilian dive work

  • NDC-CI (Netherlands Diving Centre Certification Institute)
  • Hobéon (in Dutch)

For fire services dive work

For defence dive work

Safety rules

Are you the employer? Then you must describe the risks for the diving work your company does in your risk inventory and evaluation (RI&E). You also draw up a work instruction with workplace safety measures and emergency procedures. You provide your staff with information on how to work as safely as possible. You must also check if your staff keep to the procedures.

Diving equipment and maintenance

Your staff can only work with equipment and tools that are in good working order. You must also be able to prove that you maintain the equipment properly. You have to keep maintenance records for this purpose.

Do you hire a diver who has their own diving equipment and protective gear? As the employer you must check that the equipment properly protects when diving.

Working hours and rest times

Specific rules for the working hours of divers are described in the Working Hours Act (pdf, page 19).