AAUS Accreditation Program

The AAUS Accreditation Program is based on 3 metrics:

  • The Organizational Member completes all administrative requirements for membership (paying dues and signing the annual membership agreement, maintaining a current Diving Safety Manual on the AAUS website, submitting annual statistics, etc.)
  • Maintaining minimum active status requirements for the Diving Safety Officer (DSO) by attending a DSO Orientation and / or attending annual AAUS Symposiums.
  • Completing a site visit and meeting the minimum requirements for Accredited Status.

The Accreditation process begins with the filing of an application, the submission of all required documentation and payment of all fees (see manual linked below).  The Regional Site Visit Coordinator will review those materials and develop a list of potential reviewers who are available.  The Organizational Member will then be able to approve the makeup of the review team, and inspection dates will be agreed upon.  The inspection team will then be given the application materials to review.  The team may request follow up documents if the team leader deems they are necessary.

The site visit itself includes meeting with the DSO, meeting the Chair and other members of the Diving Control Board (DCB) as well as program divers, a tour of on site diving facilities, and finally meeting with the responsible Administrator e.g. Director, Vice-Chancellor, President, etc.  While the sequence of the various aspects of the site inspection may vary in order and duration, all aspects will be included in each site visit.

The inspection team (anywhere from 1 to 3 persons) will meet with the DSO to review and verify the previously submitted administrative and training procedures.  This will include a sampling of dive plans, diver files, and training records.  Physical or electronic copies of requested files must be available at the time of the inspection, or will be considered absent.

The team will meet with the Chair of the Diving Control Board to review the make up of the DCB, meeting agendas and minutes, and the chair may be asked to discuss any enforcement actions taken by the Organizational member in the previous 3 years.  Additional members of the DCB and program divers may also meet with the inspection team, individually if time allows, or in a group setting. Teams will interview divers in order to ascertain if and how the program meets the minimum standard as set by the most current version of the AAUS Standard.

The team will also inspect diving facilities including diving lockers, program controlled life support equipment, compressor systems, and vessels if appropriate.  The inspectors will review equipment service records for program gear, air quality test results, and any emergency equipment used to support training or field operations (oxygen and first aid kits, AEDs, etc.).  Vessels may be inspected for diving-relevant features such as ease of ingress, diver recall procedures and emergency procedures.  Photos of facilities may be included with the final report. 

A key component of each inspection will be the opportunity for the AAUS Inspection team to meet with  the Organizational Member’s responsible administrator.  This will be an opportunity for the team to assess the institutional support for the diving safety program and to answer any questions about AAUS Standards, the Scientific Diving Exemption, the requirements for Accredited Status, and to convey any comments or concerns that have been generated to this point in the inspection process.  For this reason it is best if this meeting is scheduled near the end of the site visit (the afternoon of the last day is recommended).

While ensuring that minimum standards are being met, the team will always be looking to identify areas that could use some “polishing” as well as attempting to identify best practices that can be shared with the science diving community.  A written report of all findings will be issued to the responsible Administrator and to the Chair of the DCB.  Any shortcomings that don’t meet the AAUS standard will need to be corrected within an designated time frame in order for the OM to be granted “Accredited” status.

After the inspection process is complete, the team will return a written report to the responsible administrator and to the Chair of the Diving Control Board.  Any areas that require remediation will be listed, along with a timeframe within which the OM must address each issue in order to be granted accreditation.  The team will also report, via their regional coordinator, their recommendation as to whether or not to grant accredited status. 

If Accreditation is granted, it is good for five (5) years, so long as the institution continues to maintain its Organizational Membership in good standing with AAUS.

AAUS Accreditation Manual (Draft)