Welcome to Dive for Science in
Legal status of
Scientific Diving (SD)
Scientific dive is not currently and explicitly regulated by law, however, being work activities, they are subject to different laws concerning work safety and the specific obligations of the profession carried out by the worker. Some categories of professionals are required by law to be enrolled in their professional order (e.g., biologists, geologists, chemists, engineers, physician, etc.). Foreign workers can work as long as they or their employers are qualified to work in Italy, or they are guests of an Italian employer (public or private) who takes responsibility for them (based on signed agreements). All workers undergo occupational safety and health regulations (L. 81/2008). This means that all work activities are subjected to a risk assessment for which the employer is responsible. Although no explicit law applies to scientific dive, employers are called to regulate and supervise the safety of their work activities. In this context, the Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research and the Regional Environmental Protection Agencies have published the handbook of
Good Practice for the safe conduct of underwater
activities, which has been approved by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies in 2013. This manual forms the basis for the rules applied by many Universities, Research Institutes and other public and private institutions. All these manuals provide that the minimum training of scientific divers is that defined by the European Scientific Diving Panel (ESDP) for European and Advanced European Scientific Divers, with the exception of students and trainees, for whom specific derogations, strict limitations and trainer supervisions are provided.
Italian law requires workers to undergo annual health surveillance and the certificate of suitability for the job is issued by the occupational doctor. This also applies to self-employed workers and foreign workers. All Good Practice manuals recommend that the occupational doctor seeks the prior advice of a hyperbaric physician. For more information, please contact the
Italian Society of Underwater and Hyperbaric Medicine (https://simsi.it/). A provisional list of Medical Examiner of Divers that may serve as consultants for occupational doctors can be find at
All employers must provide insurance coverage to their workers. The "Istituto Nazionale per l'Assicurazione contro gli Infortuni sul Lavoro"
(INAIL) is the Italian statutory (and compulsory) insurance against accidents at work and professional diseases. The "Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale"
(INPS) is the main entity of the Italian public retirement system. All waged labourer and most of self-employed, without a proper autonomous social security fund, must be subscribed to INPS.
The team leader has the responsibility to choose decompression planning method, based on the (mandatory) risk assessment and to the adopted good practice rules. All Good Practice manuals recommend the use of dive computers.
In Italy, first aid is assigned by law to the national health system and the European emergency number,
112, is progressively adopted by all the Regions, unifying the other emergency number:
112 (Carabinieri), 113 (State Police), 115 (Fire Fighters) and
118 (medical aid). For safety and accidents at sea you can call the
coast guard emergency number (1530) and use the international VHF channel 16. In case of injury, everyone that are able to, must give assistance, otherwise they are guilty of distress omission. As compliant with the ESDP training standards, all Good Practice manuals provide that members of diving teams (including designated surface assistants) are qualified for first aid (CPR) and oxygen administration in case of diving issues.
Air diving limit for professional scientific diving is dependent on the risk assessment and the divers' qualification. Mixed gases may be used according to the qualifications, risk assessment and to the adopted good practice rules.
Volunteers may join SD teams, if accepted by the dive mission leaders. However, Italian work legislation always applies to volunteers and students whenever they formally participate to a working activity. Therefore, they undergo to all the workplace safety laws. Note that Citizen Science programs are exempt from the working context as long as the participants carry out their activities independently and in their free time.
The coordinating body for Italian SD is the Italian Association of Scientific Divers (Associazione Italiana Operatori Scientifici Subacquei,
AIOSS; http://www.aioss.info). For any further questions concerning SD in Italy, please contact us at
Since 50’s the scientific
diving community has endeavoured to promote safe, effective diving
through self- imposed diver training and education programs. In the last
few decades in some countries the Government exempted scientific diving
from commercial diving regulations, recognizing its peculiarity and
In Italy there is a long
tradition concerning scientific diving and in May 1997 an European
Scientific Diving Course was held at Elba Island (Italy) giving one of
the first impulse to the strategy of the European Scientific Diving
Committee (ESDC) and suggesting a draft standards for European
Scientific Divers and Advanced
European Scientific Divers formalized during the workshop of the ESDC
held at Banyules sur mer (France)
the 24th of October 2000.
The ESDC was set up as
interim commission based on a meeting of experts in scientific diving
and underwater sciences held in Berlin
(Germany) at the 25th-26th June 2007. Thereafter, the official ESDC
was established during the 1st
International Symposium on Occupational Scientific Diving in Bremerhaven
(Germany) 15th-16th October 2007.
In the year 2009, ESDC was adopted as a panel to European Science Foundation
Marine Board, and was named European Scientific Diving Panel (ESDP). The
main objectives of the ESDP are:
• To encourage
international mobility in the European scientific diving community
through the implementation of a
practical support framework
• To promote safety in
scientific diving across Europe
• To advance underwater
scientific excellence in Europe
Among the European countries,
Belgium, U.K., Finland, France, Germany, and Sweden have specific national
regulation concerning scientific dive and are full member of the ESDP.
Italy has become a full member of the
ESDP in 2010 by establishing a national scientific diving steering body.
Although the lack of national
regulation concerning scientific dive, AIOSS (formally Associazione
Italiana Operatori Scientifici Subacquei,
http://www.aioss.info/) represents the scientific diving community
through a number of major institutions
of the country. AIOSS is a ‘no profit’ professional association.
Among the individual members there
are technicians, researchers and academics from universities, research
institutes and public agencies, operators
and managers of Marine Protected Areas, Nature Reserves, Marine
Archaeological Sites and Aquariums,
employees of private studies of environmental consulting, engineers and
doctors. AIOSS liaise with the
Working Committee of the Chamber of Deputies and other associations to
promote legal recognition of
We define Scientific Diving
solely as part of scientific research, conservation and
protection as well as training, whose only goal is to achieve scientific,
educational, informational, and safeguarding
the environmental heritage and / or historical and archaeological
through such sampling, measurements,
surveys, experimentation, exploration, stratigraphic excavations,
surveys and recoveries.
Scientific Divers are those
in possession of appropriate qualification stating the specific training
required by the operating environment
and perform Scientific Diving, including students in their scientific
of the EU Project: