Hay, right, discusses the dive with a local commercial diving
GLENN Cheddie, the owner operator of Underwater Works Inc,
has all intentions of lifting the standards of the local
commercial diving industry. Cheddie said through the proper
training, local divers can attain international standards
and adapt safe operating diving procedures.
Cheddie said the industry in its present state suffers from
a lack of trained divers which he believes can one day prove
fatal and create chaos and trauma if the proper steps are
not put in place to raise the standards to the level required
under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (Osha).
Cheddie said many so-called commercial diving
operators are using Scuba (Self-Contained Underwater
Breathing Apparatus) gear to perform technical commercial
diving operations. He said Scuba gear was designed for recreational
use and not for staying underwater for a long period of
time while doing complex operations as underwater welding
and related activities.
Cheddie warns that using scuba equipment for commercial
jobs are like playing Russian roulette with ones life
since almost all accidents that take place on a dive, ends
with a fatality because the plain and simple truth is that
humans cannot breathe in water.
Cheddie said lady luck is still holding strong at some operations,
but he feels that when the luck runs out, several fingers
would be pointing at the agencies responsible for the safety
Cheddie claimed that some state agencies and private companies
are employing Scuba gear-based commercial operations because
they are able to pay (charge) low piper rates"
(less than $500 to do a job).
Short cut/long cut
He said when he initially intended to start talks with the
T&T Bureau of Standard and the Osha team, he received
a lot of criticism from the Scuba gear based operators who
felt that they would be run out of business. Cheddie said
these operators are not willing to undertake the cost of
training their divers nor are they willing to purchase the
proper equipment, but are interested in cashing in on a
Cheddie said several of the larger T&T-based diving
operations have decompression chambers for treating divers
who develop the inescapable problem of developing nitrogen
gas bubbles in their bloodstream. A decompression chamber
helps to rid the body of the unwanted gas by raising and
slowly lowering the pressure inside the chamber.
The bad news, according to Cheddie, is that Tobago has only
one outdated decompression chamber at Roxborough, even though
the island continues to attract hundreds of divers annually,
many are doing so at their own risk without even knowing
it. He cautioned: Tourism will be affected because
a lot of foreign divers first enquire of the availability,
readiness and type of decompression chamber available before
making dive plans.
Cheddie said because of his love for the industry and his
personal vision to see more and more people get involved
in commercial diving he has, at his own cost, employed the
assistance of Gordon Hay, the former president and now director
of the Canadian Association of Diving Contractors to conduct
a commercial diving assessment (course) at his Chaguanas
Hay, who also runs the Canadian Working Divers Institute,
a diving school based north-east of Toronto in the Kawartha
Highlands, said he was extremely appalled to hear that some
commercial diving operators in T&T are still using scuba
Hay said in a properly executed commercial operation the
diver is supplied with back-up staff; and air is pumped
from two surface-supplied lines to the diver who is equipped
with a back up tank.
Hay said if one of the air lines fail, the dive is aborted.
Safety is improved ten fold when surface can communicate
with the diver and hear if there is a problem.
Hay said T&T has the potential and the market for an
increased number of trained commercial divers.
However these jobs are instead going to foreigners with
the training and expertise. He added that he was part of
Canadian team that took 20 years to develop standards for
divers in that country to ensure that safety was paramount.
He said T&T should not have to wait until divers suffer
a fatality then to bring about regulations.
On the Canadian standards, Hay added that the Divers Certification
Board of Canada (DCBC) has the safest training and operating
standards in the world.
Hay said it has taken the Canadians years to get acceptance
and approval of their certification around the world.
He said: There is no reason why T&T should go
through the lengthy process and try to re-invent the wheel
for this reason.
Cheddie said he hopes to develop a training school in Trinidad
that will certify standards through the DCBC since the DCBC
certification is approved by the international marine contractors
association (IMCA) whose operators work in local waters.
Cheddie added that foreign companies who are not even IMCA
certified are allowed to do commercial diving work in T&T.
He said two large local IMCA approved companies are being
Cheddie revealed that a local contract was awarded recently
to an uncertified Mexican firm that was able to offer the
lowest bid in the tendering process.
Cheddie says he hopes that his work with the TTBS should
eventually see the enactment of laws that regulate the industry
to the highest international standard.
Decompression sickness, caused by nitrogen gas in the blood,
is no laughing matter. Nitrogen gas is a major component
of the air humans breathe, however as a diver goes deeper,
the pressure of the water causes the nitrogen to dissolve
in the bloodstream. If the diver surfaces too fast the rapid
pressure changes cause the nitrogen bubbles to literally
pop up in the bloodstream and around the joints.
Imagine removing the lid from a freshly shaken bottle of
Whilst the lid was on the bottle the drink was held under
pressure. When removed the ambient pressure drops and the
gas causes the drink to froth out of the bottle.
Similarly, a diver that ascends too rapidly can cause the
nitrogen in the blood system to form bubbles in areas where
they can become trapped and cause decompression illness
which is an umbrella term for both decompression sickness
(DCS) and cerebral arterial gas embolism (CAGE).
These can lead to the formation of emboli that cause adverse
physiological effects by obstructing blood flow, damaging
tissues or nerves. It is the size of these bubbles, their
location, and the ability (or inability) of the body to
rid itself of them before they cause damage.
A decompression chamber helps to rid the body of the unwanted
Indepth information on DCS and its treatment can be found