AAUS Diving Safety Officer Code of Ethics

The American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) Diving Safety Officers (DSOs) are scientific diving professionals. AAUS DSOs are responsible for adding value and contributing to the success of their home organization, and the AAUS. AAUS DSOs accept professional responsibility for their individual decisions and actions. They are an advocate for their home organization, and the AAUS, by engaging in activities that enhance individual, home organization, and AAUS credibility and value.

• DSOs are committed to adherence to the scientific diving model: Diving conducted under the control and direction of a Diving Control Board (DCB), made up of a majority of active scientific divers, having autonomous and absolute authority over the scientific diving program’s operation, and, at a minimum, meeting the standards of the AAUS.
• DSOs will adhere to the mission of the AAUS: to advance and facilitate safe and productive scientific diving. They will do so without discrimination as to race, sex, or beliefs, and they pledge to practice the profession of DSO according to the highest ethical standards and professional behavior. Specifically, AAUS DSOs will act with honesty, integrity, and openness in all of their dealings as a representative of their home organization, and the AAUS, and they will promote a working environment that values respect, fairness, and integrity.
• DSOs recognize a responsibility and obligation to promote the AAUS and support the official decisions and policies of the Academy.
• DSOs will maintain a level of physical, educational, and professional competence meeting or exceeding the standards and policies of the AAUS. DSOs will also follow all safe diving principles and recognize that influence by example is a cornerstone to the development and promotion of safe scientific diving practices. • DSOs shall adhere to AAUS standards when conducting all scientific diving activities. DSOs will conduct all training and/or evaluation sessions personally or arrange for them to be conducted by a designated qualified DCB-approved substitute.
• DSOs will recommend for certification or authorization only those individuals who have satisfactorily achieved the established standards of the AAUS and/or their home organization.
• DSOs who become aware of any event, act, error, or omission that might result in a claim or suit will provide written notice to the OM and AAUS as soon as practical, and will cooperate to the best of their ability with these agencies.
• DSOs are obligated to report violations of AAUS standards and the Code of Ethics to the AAUS Standards Committee.

DSOs are expected to adhere to this code of ethics, as well as the rules and regulations of their respective Organizational Member institutions.

Violations of the Code of Ethics
In order to maintain high standards of professional conduct the Board of Directors (BOD) of the AAUS has the power to censure, suspend, or expel a DSO’s membership in the AAUS, or impose any other discipline, sanction, supervision, or probation deemed reasonable. The DSO’s actions may be considered cause for review of their home organization’s membership in the AAUS. A majority of the AAUS BOD may terminate a member at any time if: 1) the member for any reason fails to continue to meet the qualifications for membership set forth in Section 1 of the AAUS Bylaws; and/or 2) the member commits an offense that constitutes a material violation of the purposes, goals, or standards of the AAUS; and/or 3) the member causes significant damage to the reputation of the AAUS. No member terminated by action of the BOD may qualify for future membership unless reinstated by the BOD. The BOD may appoint an Ethics Committee to hear complaints regarding alleged violations of the Code of Ethics, and to recommend a course of action to the BOD.

AAUS Policy on Complaints
The AAUS is committed to a policy of providing benchmark standards for the training and development of safe scientific divers.  It is expected that Diving Safety Officers at AAUS OMs will demonstrate their integrity through adherence to these principles by providing commensurate training and authorizations.  Should a DSO fail to meet these training standards, a formal complaint can be lodged at the national office of AAUS.  This report will be investigated by a Complaint Committee of peers who will recommend appropriate remediation strategies to ensure current and future compliance.  These efforts are meant to ensure the integrity of the AAUS, the OM, and the DSO.

DSOs and/or OMs that disregard the recommendations of the Complaint Committee risk further sanctions, including loss of membership.  The DSO and/or OM may appeal the recommendations of the Complaint Committee within two weeks, by filing a point-by-point rebuttal to the original complaint.  Upon review an arbitrator will make a final recommendation to the case.

Filing a Complaint.  Scientific Divers, Divers in Training, and/or members of local Diving Control Board may file a complaint with AAUS ([email protected]) using the form below.  Within two weeks of receipt, a Complaint Committee will be charged with investigating the incident(s). 

Complaint Form