Re: Ken Kurtis and the Solo -v- Nitrox discussion/promotion

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Posted by Kendall Raine on January 12, 2001 at 10:11:08:

In Reply to: Re: Ken Kurtis and the Solo -v- Nitrox discussion/promotion posted by AADIVER on January 11, 2001 at 17:32:43:


At the risk of failing to answer your question again, here's my best and most humble attempt:

In short, an issue that never really was has gone away.

In long, the only legal authority with respect to Nitrox is OSHA and their mandate is limited to safety in the workplace. CGA is a trade association and publishes gas handling standards, but these have no basis in law. As such, as long as you're simply using the stuff for your personal, non-comercial purposes, OSHA has nothing to say.

The issue gets less clear for those making money from the teaching and selling of Nitrox. OSHA prescribes strict procedures for commercial diving operations and one of the factors they consider is whether air or mixed gas is used. The question then becomes, is the recreational scuba industry subject to OSHA regs? This question was used by NOAA to hold up Gary Gentile's request to dive the Monitor on mix. NOAA's point was mixed gas was outside the boundery of recreational diving and therefore Gary was conducting operations subject to OSHA standards-e.g. he had to have a four point mooring, surface supply, chamber on board, etc. Rod Farb, by agreeing to dive the Monitor on air, was therefore able to beat Gary to the wreck. Gary eventually won in court, however. OSHA did get involved with the Cazador project in 1995 and was able to halt slavage operations conducted by Billy Deams using mix gas on open circuit, but he was clearly working. Besides, he was rubbing the ADC's nose in it.

Much was made of these points years ago when Nitrox came of interest to the recreational dive industry. Guys like Dick Long made a lot of noise about establishing standards for the tech diving/mixed gas community for fear that if we didn't do it ourselves, the government, through OSHA and other organs, would do it for us. The government/OSHA never raised a finger. There are a few people out there, actually Ken Kurtis is the only one I know, who continue to raise this issue. The fact is, however, Nitrox is common place today. It's taught by the major recreational agencies, it's pumped and sold by lots of shops. Equipment manufacturers sell gear labled "Nitrox Compatable," etc. It's efficacy is supported theoretically and empirically. I'm unaware of any legal or regulatory case coming up asserting OSHA has perview over recreational Nitrox use. Ken, who is a student of this issue, may have facts which suggest otherwise and, if so, I hope he shares them.

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