This page has supporting information about being an occupational diver, the medical fitness for diving, and the Certificate of Competence (CoC) required to work as an occupational diver.

What you need to know about occupational diving

WorkSafe administers the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015(HSWA)(external link) and the Health and Safety in Employment Regulations 1995(external link) (the Regulations). The Regulations determine the requirements for certifying occupational divers.

Occupational diving is defined as diving that is carried out at work for gain or reward. It involves the diver breathing gases (usually air) at greater than atmospheric pressure under water.

The Regulations require that occupational divers be ‘medically fit’ to dive at the time of diving (Regulation 49) and be the holder of a CoC in the category of diving in which they are diving (Regulation 48). The CoC is issued by us.

If you work underwater as a diver breathing compressed gas from any source then you need to apply for a CoC from us.

Medical fitness to dive

A medical clearance to dive is important for all divers, but more so when a diver is engaged in a physical activity underwater. We have a close working relationship with the experts in diving health providing independent advice to back up medical examinations carried out by a Designated Diving Doctor (DDD). A DDD is a doctor who has completed specialist training in hyperbaric medicine.

To support diver health and safety, an annual ‘Diving Medical Clearance’ is required to be issued by the Diving Hyperbaric Medical Service (DHMS) in Auckland. Divers must hold a current DHMS Medical Clearance to be deemed ‘fit to dive’. After completing a full medical check carried out by a DDD, there is provision to use an annual self-check medical questionnaire. There is a need to complete a full medical every 5 years or as required by the DHMS. For further information go to www.divemeds.co.nz(external link)

Explanation of the New Zealand process for certification of medical fitness for occupational diving [PDF, 175 KB] (PDF 134 KB)

List of Designated Diving Doctors

Occupational medical diving forms

Occupational Diver - Annual Medical Questionnaire (PDF 424 KB)
New Zealand Occupational Diving Medical Examination (PDF 187 KB)

Certificate of Competence

A CoC will be processed when an applicant submits the completed application along with the appropriate fee, the required diving medical clearance and the relevant training and experience for the category of diving in which he or she intends to work (see below).

Currently CoCs for occupational divers are listed in the following categories:

  • construction (Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4)
  • scientific
  • instruction/tutor
  • tourism
  • aquaculture
  • film and photographic.

Applicants can apply for a New, Renewal or Replacement of a CoC. Once issued the certificate remains valid for 5 years provided the holder maintains an ‘in date’ medical clearance to dive. 

Full details of ‘How to Apply’ and the ‘Required Documentation’ when you apply can be found on our CoC Application page

Other definitions

Gain or reward

This includes payment but could also include other services such as where a diver is given a ‘free trip’ in return for providing the work.

Good character and reputation

These requirements are assigned under Section 31(c) of the Health and Safety in Employment Regulations 1995(external link)

WorkSafe interprets these regulations and this requirement to mean that the applicant:

i.          has no past or pending criminal offences relevant to the performance of their duties as an occupational diver

ii.         has not had a previous application for a CoC declined or refused

iii.        has not had a previous CoC suspended or removed

iv.        has not engaged in any unlawful activity while diving occupationally

v.         and would have no safety, medical, or past performance reason to be refused work as an occupational diver.

Place of work

A place of work is defined as a place where people work for gain or reward. This includes a beach, river, boat, pool or any place where diving for gain or reward is carried out.

Recent experience and recent training

Recent experience and training is defined as having occurred within the preceding 2 years.

Recreational diving

This is diving carried out by individuals or groups for their own pleasure and without receiving gain or reward, which would not involve any commercial activity at a place of work.