AAUS Standards For Scientific Diving

The AAUS scientific diving standards are consensual minimal standards. Meeting AAUS minimum standards is a requirement for organizational membership in the Academy. Each OM shall develop and maintain a diving safety manual that includes wording on how the OM defines specific policies and procedures required for the proper function of a scientific diving program. The OM manual must address training, environmental and working conditions unique to the program’s operations. Any areas in the AAUS manual that says the DCB shall promulgate details on a subject must be defined in the OM manual.

AAUS standards must be the foundation for the development of an OM’s scientific diving safety manual. The order and formatting of the OM manual does not have to conform exactly to the AAUS template. The information contained in Volume 1, Sections 1.00 through 5.00 and the Appendices are required for all manuals.  Volume 2, Sections 6.00 through 12.00 are required only when the OM conducts the specifically referenced diving mode or activity.  Deviations or significant changes to AAUS minimum standards may require justification before approval is granted by the AAUS Standards Committee.


AAUS Standards Manual

2018:  The 2018 AAUS Standards manual is finally ready!  Below you will find both a pdf and word format as well as a corresponding standards manual checksheet and a summary of changes document. All Organizational Members of AAUS must implement the 2018v AAUS standard manual by 01 June 2019.

AAUS Standards for Scientific Diving (2018) - Word Format (w/corrections March 2019)
Standards Manual Checksheet (2018)
Summary of Changes (2018) 
Errata Page March 2019

If you have any suggested change for the Standards Committee to consider (grammatical, typographical, formatting or content), please submit your suggestions via the form below.  Be as specific as possible and reference section and page number where appropriate.  The Standards Committee will review these suggestions periodically through out the year.

Standards Manual Change Suggestion Form

NOTE: Any updates of AAUS Standards are put out to the Membership for a 60 day review period before being approved and implemented by the AAUS Board of Directors. 

Supplemental Standards Documents

All Organizational Member applicants must completed the standards manual checksheet and this checksheet must be uploaded with the manual. 

Standards Manual Checksheet (2018)

Current or applying OMs may wish to use the voluntary self evaluation tool to self audit their program.  This is not currently required to be submitted to AAUS but may be uploaded to your profile if you choose.

OM Self Evaluation Form (2014)

The AAUS has provided standards for science divers utilizing Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) for over four decades. While many programs don’t officially oversee freediving or snorkeling activities, most training programs include at least a rudimentary introduction to the techniques and procedures for snorkeling and shallow freediving. Formal freediving training has only been available for about the last two decades; snorkeling courses developed more recently. As the popularity and inclusion of freediving and snorkeling have increased over the last twenty years, so has the need for the development and accessibility of proper training standards. The following recommendations have been developed to help facilitate freediving and snorkeling standards within our Academy.

AAUS Snorkeling and Breath Hold Diving Guidelines (December 2023)

Pressure Related Incidence Rates in Scientific Diving 2008 – 2018 - Full Manuscript (pdf)

In 2007 the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) examined the AAUS database to calculate an incidence rate for pressure related injuries for each year from 1998 to 2005. This analysis was done to determine if the original reasoning behind the partial exemption from the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards for commercial diving as established by (29 CFR Part 1910, Subpart T – Commercial Diving Regulations) was still valid. This paper undertakes a retrospective evaluation of scientific diving statistics from 2008 to 2018 and compares the 8-year periods (1998-2005 and 2008-2015) to determine the continued validity of the exemption. The reduction in the total number of incidents reported and pressure related injuries from one period to the other period reinforces the on-going validity for the exemption.