Divers can be exposed to shock hazards that can be more dangerous than those on land. The most dangerous electrical shock hazard for a diver is at the air and water interface. In this condition, the lower part of the diver's body is in the water (generally from the chest down) and the upper part (generally the arms, neck, and head) is out of the water, in air. If a diver comes in contact with an electrical circuit out of the water by grabbing electrical equipment handed to him from the surface or grabbing a faulted cable or conduit, a ground fault electrical current would enter the body at the contact point and flow through the diver's body and into the water. The resulting electrical shock would be severe to lethal.
The diver's skin contact resistance is substantially reduced by water absorption, particularly in highly conductive saltwater. This decrease in skin resistance reduces the voltage across the body required to create a fatal current flow. The voltage can be applied to the diver directly by physical contact with an energized circuit or by the presence of a strong electric field in the water.
The Navy Bureau of Medicine (BUMED) has adopted the Association of Offshore Diving Contractors (AODC) Code of Practice for the Safe Use of Electricity Under Water (Ref D-l). The AODC code deals with the various hazards which may arise from the use of electricity underwater, and describes practices aimed at minimizing the risk associated with the use of electricity underwater.
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