New PFD Standard for Australian Boaters

General / Oct 28, 2010

This change will have a minimum impact on boaters, as PFDs are made to the old Australian standards can continue to be sold after 1 July 2010.
 
Most PFDs made to the old standards will be recognised for many years to come and in the majority of cases; people won’t need to replace their existing PFDs as long as they are servicable.
 
Some states already recognise PFDs made to AS 4758 and by 1 July 2010, this should be the situtation nationally.
 
AS 4758 is being introduced to more closely align with international standards and takes into account advances in PFD design and manufacture.
 
Even though PFDs manufactured to AS 4758 are starting to appear on retailer’s shelves, full market availability of the new product may not be reached until 2011.
 
PFDs made to AS 4758 are marked as -
  • Level 150 – which is similiar to inflatable PFD Type 1 and suitable for offshore use
  • Level 100 – which is similiar to PFD Type 1 and the minimum requirement for offshore use
  • Level 50 – which is similiar to PFD Type 2
  • Level 50 Special Purpose (50s) – to replace PFD Type 3
Please note that some states have applied limits to accepting older existing PFDs based on when they were manufactured.
So if you have an existing PFD made to the old standards, it is important that you contact your local marine safety authority to find out if it is still accepted.
PFDs are a key safety feature in recreational boating. An National Marine Safety Committee (NMSC) study* found that people who survived a boating incident were more than two times more likely to have been wearing a PFD compared to those who died and concluded that if PFD usage increased to 50%, 2-3 lives could be saved nationally each year.
For more details on PFD laws in your state, please contact your local marine safety agency.
 

Types of Personal Floatation Devices

It’s important that each person on board has an approved personal floatation device for the activity and conditions that they intend to boat in. If unsure, check with your local marine agency.
New PFDs starting to appear on the shelves, manufactured to the new Australian Standard 4758 are marked as -
  • Level 150 – which is similiar to inflatable PFD Type 1 and suitable for offshore use
  • Level 100 – which is similiar to PFD Type 1 and the minimum requirement for offshore use
  • Level 50 – which is similiar to PFD Type 2
  • Level 50 Special Purpose (50s) – to replace PFD Type 3
Personal Floatation Devices made to AS 4758, will be accepted by all marine safety authorities by 1 July 2010.
This change will have minimum impact on boaters, as PFDs are made to the old Australian standards can continue to be sold after 1 July 2010.
Please note that some states have applied time limits to accepting older existing PFDs based on when they were manufactured.
If you have an existing PFD made to the old standards, it is important that you check with your local marine safeyt authority to find out if it is still accepted.

Other types of PFDs

 
PFD Type 1
PFD Type 2
PFD Type 3
     
A PFD Type 1 is designed to keep you in a safe "face up" floating position. There are two types – fixed buoyancy and those which are self or manually inflatable. It can be worn for general boating in all waters. A PFD Type 2 or buoyancy vest has less buoyancy than a PFD Type 1 and may not rotate you to a "face up" floating position. Normally used for sailing, waterskiing, kayaking, canoeing, wind surfacing and on personal watercraft. Has similiar buoyancy characteristics as PFD Type 2 but is manufactured in a wider range of colours. Favoured by waterskiers and PWC riders, it is also available as a built in garment (eg waterskiing wet suit).
 

Buying a PFD

Try the personal floatation device on in the shop before you buy
  • Choose the appropriate weight and size range. It should be snug without confining or riding up.
  • Ensure you can put it on quickly, with minimal instruction
  • Choose one that is made in bright colours
  • Reflective tape will assist rescuers to find you at night

Mainintaing your PFD

Always read and service your jacket according to the manufacturer’s instructions
After use -
  • Do not machine wash or tumble dry
  • Rinse in fresh water and dry thoroughly
  • Check webbing belts, buckles and straps are in good order
For inflatable PFDs
  • If your jacket is water-activiated (automatic) remove the bobbin before washing to avoid accidental inflatation and replace it once your jacket is dry
  • Check that the CO2 cyclinder is firmly screwed into the inflator
  • Check the air chamber by inflating it via the oral tube and leve it inflated overnight
  • Any questions? Phone the manufacturer or the place of purchase.

Please contact your local marine safety authority for further details on PFD laws in your state.