When using an oxygen-arc cutting apparatus, underwater workers have to be aware of all of the attendant risks and prevent harm from coming to themselves, the tools they use and the structure they are working on.
In extreme cases, using the cutter and the electronics associated with it, including knife switches and various chemicals, can lead to serious risk of injury through electrocution, chemical burns or explosions. When workers are covered by commercial diving insurance, the companies employing them have more options to recover financially after a catastrophe.
The Gulf of Mexico Diving Safety Work Group (DSWG) explains on its website the hazards and proper procedures for underwater cutting activity. Before work begins a plan that has received managerial approval needs to be established. Supervisors must understand all possible risks, especially when it comes to trapped gas in an enclosed space. To make an explosion less likely, it may be necessary to thoroughly vent a space and clear out dangerous gasses.
Another fundamental part of preventing accidents during underwater arc cutting is implementing proper diver training. Different industry guidelines from organizations like OSHA and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) have their own conflicting definitions for cutting activities.
The DSWG has been sought after to influence best practices in collaborating with groups like the Coast Guard, and has created guidelines and subcommittees on other topics that affect regular activities during commercial and industrial diving. The most recent issue of Underwater Magazine said that the Work Group grew out of the amount of work being conducted in the Gulf of Mexico, which includes thousands of platforms and “over 130 operators in federal waters.”
Because oxegyn-arc cutting is accompanied by risk, every project requires best practices be followed for each step of the way.