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HSE Commercial  Diving medicals

Are you medically fit?

It is important that before you apply to become a commercial diver you read the HSE guidance and get the questionnaire filled in by you GP. Click here

The new MA1 can be found here.


New Guidelines:

Please note - a BMI over 35 is now a FAIL. 30-35 is a fail if waist is over 102cm (male) and 88cm (female) or  restricted in length certificate if your waist is over 94cm (male and 80cm (female).


Fitness test - a VO2 max of less than 40 is a fail; 40-45 warning and early retest, over 45 pass.


Professional diving is a very demanding career. It requires a high degree of physical and psychological fitness that means you will need to be very fit initially and will need to keep yourself in top condition. Under The Diving at Work Regulations 1997 (DWR) you will need to pass a thorough medical examination by an Approved Medical Examiner of Divers (AMED), before starting training. AMEDs are approved by the HSE and are trained in diving medicine.

  • The following medical conditions are likely to prevent you from diving or restrict the type of diving that you do:

  • Disease of the heart and circulation, including high blood pressure, angina, chest pains and palpitations

  • Collapsed lung/pneumothorax

  • Other chest problems or lung disease

  • Ear, nose, throat or sinus problems

  • Persistent stomach or intestinal problems

  • Mental illness

  • Epilepsy or childhood convulsions

  • Claustrophobia or severe motion sickness

  • Severe migraines

  • Disease of the brain or nervous system such as strokes or multiple sclerosis

  • Blackouts or recurring fainting

  • Injury or surgery to the head or spine

  • Skin problems

  • Blood disorders

  • Diabetes

  • Asthma

  • Pregnancy – A diver who is pregnant or who suspects she may be pregnant should not dive.

Medical examination

Before beginning training and or assessment you must pass an initial medical examination carried out by an AMED to ensure you are medically fit to dive. The AMED also needs to make you aware of any underlying health problems, which could affect your fitness in the future. If you pass the medical you will be issued with a certificate of medical fitness to dive, which is valid for up to 12 months. This must be renewed annually and will include a fitness test.


What you will need to bring:

  • Prior to your first medical, you will need to get a questionnaire completed by your GP. (Any costs to be paid by yourself) This can be  found here   No questionnaire - no medical


  • Important note: please ensure you bring photo identification with you to your appointment. This will need to be produced at the time of your medical examination..


  • For subsequent medicals you will need to bring a copy of your previous medical if it was not undertaken by myself. No previous details - no medical


  • The medical involves an exercise test - The Chester  step test. (See below) This test is fairly demanding and involves stepping up and down on a 12" step until your pulse rate gets to 80% of predicted maximum. Please bring some appropriate clothing / footwear for this.



The Chester Step Test

A far more reliable way of gauging your fitness is to measure your heart’s ability to recover from exertion. The step test is a sub maximal test which requires you to step onto, and off a 30 cm/12″ step (a standard gym bench), at a rate set by a metronome disc, sufficient to elicit a heart rate of around 80% max heart rate at a moderate level of exertion. It is a multi-staged test so every 2 minutes there is an increase in the rate of the step. Exercise heart rates are then plotted on a graph and aerobic capacity and fitness rating may be calculated.

Procedure for the Test

If you are doing your step test as part of your medical examination or any other part of your recruitment process for the Fire Service, then this will generally be the procedure that you will go through:

  1. Your maximum heart rate will be calculated (220 – Age) and then 80% of your maximum heart rate. These values will be entered in the appropriate box on the Chester Step Test Record sheet and two horizontal lines will be drawn on the graph to represent these values.

  2. You will be told what will be required of you during the test, followed by a brief demonstration of the initial stepping rate (15 steps /min).

  3. When the CD is turned on your will be encouraged to commence stepping at the appropriate stepping rate, and will continue to step for the next 2 minutes.

  4. After the first 2 minutes of stepping (stage 1) your heart rate will be recorded during the last few seconds of stepping. (You may also be asked to indicate your rating of perceived exertion (RPE) from a chart numbered 6 to 20, low scores being very, very light exertion and high scores being very, very hard exertion).

  5. Providing your heart rate is below 80% of your maximum heart rate and the RPE is below 14, you’ll be asked to continue stepping at the slightly faster rate in stage 2 (20 steps/min).

  6. After another 2 minutes of stepping your heart rate will be recorded during the last few seconds of stage 2, and again you may be asked to indicate your RPE from the chart provided.

  7. Providing your heart rate is below 80% of your maximum heart rate and the RPE is below 14, you’ll be asked to continue stepping at the slightly faster rate is stage 3 (25 steps/min).

  8. The test will continue until either you report an RPE greater than 14 and/or an exercise heart rate greater than 80% of your maximum heart rate (stage 4 = 30 steps/min, stage 5 = 35 steps/min).

Your results will then be plotted and a decision will be made by the Occupational Doctor as to whether or not you pass the criteria for the step test.



Chaperone Policy


Any person of either sex can either bring or ask for provision of a chaperone to be present during the medical examination. If you would like one provided, please mention at time of booking as it might be difficult to provide at short notice.

The medical does not involve any intimate examination other than the undertaking of the ECG which would require access to the chest for the placement of electrodes.

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