Rules for inflatable personal flotation devices for recreational boats issued in last March have been withdrawn by the U.S. Coast Guard. Instead, the Coast Guard is reopening the rulemaking process, opening another public comment period.
The agency is changing the policy to reflect an update in proposed industry standards. It generally incorporates Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standards into its rules. UL recently came out with new technological and safety standards, which the Coast Guard now wants to incorporate.
Standards cover inflatable devices for adults, where most of the research has been done. The Coast Guard has not yet ruled on what inflatable devices are appropriate for children. The rules at issue cover only those aged 16 and up and weighing more than 80 lbs. It plans to take up the standards for devices for children at a later date.
The Coast Guard now proposes to drop rules regarding grab breaking strength, tear strength, seam strength, and permeability tests for inflation chamber materials; as well as the repacking and rearming test and requirements for marking inflation mechanisms.
The agency does not currently plan a public meeting on the matter but if it gets enough requests for one, it may change its mind. It is accepting public comments through November 28. For details, see http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-09-29/html/2011-25034.htm
For more information on PFDs including inflatables visit our BasicBoatingSafetyCourse.