PFD type codes are unique to Coast Guard approval and are not well understood by the public. Removing these type codes from the regulations would facilitate future incorporation by reference of new industry consensus standards for PFD labeling that will more effectively convey safety information and is a step toward harmonization of our regulations with PFD requirements in Canada and in other countries.
What does all of this mean for the paddling community?
Over time, the terminology of Type I, II, III, IV and V will no longer appear on lifejacket labels and in literature. Once the new standard wording or icons for lifejackets are finalized, instructors and clubs will then need to share this updated information with the public.
Our friends in the life jacket manufacturing community advise that 2017 is likely the earliest they could potentially see any new life jacket standards on production lines. In the meantime, current life jackets that have Type I-V coding on their labels will be legal to sell and wear for the useful life of the jacket.
This is a long process, but a worthy one. A better life jacket labeling system will help reduce boater confusion, decrease manufacturing costs, and speed the introduction of new life jacket designs across countries.