Not all divers should be allowed to do underwater work

Not all divers should be allowed to do underwater work

It does not take much to become a commercial diver.

Just taking a five-day scuba diving course allows you to be hired as one, after which the company will provide in-house training.

But diving among fishes and corals in places like Tioman island is very different from using a blowtorch to weld ship parts or navigating around dangling cables in murky waters.

And although it has been four years since the authorities recommended a higher standard of training and certification for commercial divers, this has not been followed.

Two leading scuba organisations - Professional Association of Diving Instructors (Padi) and Scuba Schools International (SSI) - offer certifications, which range from basic to instructor levels, as well as different specialisations such as cave diving.

But divers who hold fairly basic recreational Padi or SSI certificates can be hired for commercial diving work.

That's because to be employed as an occupational diver in Singapore, all you need is to show that you know how to dive.

This despite calls from the Commercial Diving Association Singapore (CDAS) to ban this practice.

That same year, the Manpower Ministry's Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council also said that recreational licences were not enough for commercial work.

But recreational diving instructor at Simply Scuba, Mr Christopher Lee, said he still gets students who take his open water diving course with the intention of working in the industry.

Mr Lee, who has been diving for more than 25 years, said: "Out of 400 students that we train, there will be at least two students who want to go do diving work with the certificate."

That should not be the case, said CDAS chairman Edwin Tan.

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