Competence of underwater construction worker

Permits and notifications - Underwater construction worker - Yleistä

The Finnish National Agency for Education reformed the education of underwater construction workers in 2019, and professional diving qualifications were renamed. A new Government Decree on the qualifications of underwater construction workers entered into force on 1 January 2020.

The latest competence requirements are laid down in the Finnish Government Decree amending section 2 of the Government Decree on the competence of underwater construction workers and on safety planning (1209/2019). According to the decree, underwater construction works can only be performed by qualified individuals. As of 1 January 2020, underwater construction workers must have a professional diving qualification specialising in underwater work or have completed a suitable module of the qualification.

“Suitable modules” include the basics of underwater work, which is compulsory for those specialising in underwater work, and the basics of scientific diving, which is compulsory for those specialising in underwater research. Whether or not the completion of a “suitable module” qualifies an individual for a specific task depends on the depth at which the work is to be performed, the nature of the work, the diving equipment to be used and the technique.

Old commercial diving qualifications and professional SCUBA diving qualifications still valid

Underwater construction work can also be performed by individuals who got their qualifications before 2020.

The qualifications awarded between 2012 and 2019 were called a commercial diving qualification and a professional SCUBA diving qualification.

From 1997 until 2011, separate qualifications were awarded for underwater inspectors, underwater rescue workers, underwater researchers and underwater construction workers pursuant to a decision of the then Ministry of Labour. 

Training and professional qualifications of divers

Vocational degree courses in underwater construction are run by the Western Uusimaa Municipal Training and Education Consortium (Luksia).

Ensuring a diver’s competence is the employer’s responsibility

Each diver’s competence must be checked from their qualification certificate before they are hired and, in any case, before underwater work commences.

The Finnish Occupational Safety and Health Act obligates employers to ensure that each worker is fit for their work. In practice, this means checking each diver’s health from a medical certificate before they are permitted to engage in underwater work.