In the December 2014 issue of Tea Shack news, Step Change In Safety stated that the BOSIET course was under review and the inclusion of the Category-A EBS in the HUET course was the workgroup's main priority.
There has been some frustration with the workforce about not including the Category-A EBS in water exercises, but the delay has been due to concerns regarding barotrauma risk (injury caused by a change in air pressure, which typically affects the ear and lungs). There is a very small risk of this happening when breathing compressed air underwater. After extensive work by the OPITO/BOSIET/HUET/FOET Industry Workgroup (which took advice from medical professionals), it was believed that the risks could be controlled to as low as reasonably practical (ALARP) provided appropriate risk controls were put in place.
Following discussions with OPITO, the International Association of Drilling Contractors, Oil & Gas UK, Step Change and the trades unions, it was agreed that Category A EBS training could be included in the HUET, subject to there being no inversion while using the new breathing system. There will, however, be an inversion exercise using breath hold only.
It is important to note that in-water HUET training using compressed air EBS equipment falls within the provisions of the Diving at Work Regulations 1997, which requires those undertaking this type of training to undertake a full diving medical. After consultation with the industry, the HSE has now issued an exemption which means delegates do not need to undertake this medical before training. However, the HSE has specified further ear, nose, throat and respiratory health checks; in-pool chest depth limitations and incident recording requirements must also be met as a condition of the exemption.
So what does this actually mean?
There are still a number of issues to address. The Industry Workgroup will re-convene as soon as possible to discuss further requirements imposed by the conditions of the exemption, and to complete the review of the BOSIET/HUET/FOET standards with a target implementation date of 1st January 2016.