Formally: Associazione Italiana Operatori Scientifici Subacquei, AIOSS

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Welcome to Dive for Science in Italy!

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.

Medical examinations
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 ( 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.

Decompression issues
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.

First Aid
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.

Breathing gas
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.

More information
The coordinating body for Italian SD is the Italian Association of Scientific Divers (Associazione Italiana Operatori Scientifici Subacquei, AIOSS; For any further questions concerning SD in Italy, please contact us at

A bit of story!

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 specific requirements.

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, 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 scientific diving.

We define Scientific Diving as:

“diving performed 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 diver training.”


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Associazione Italiana Operatori Scientifici Subacquei

c/o Centro Interdipartimentale di Ricerca per le Scienze Ambientali in Ravenna, Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna

Via S. Alberto 163, 48123 Ravenna (Italy)

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