Coast Guard expands life jacket testing

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The Coast Guard this week published a direct final rule that will help advance life jacket regulatory reform by removing exclusivity for Underwriters Laboratories as the only Coast Guard-approved lab to test inflatable life jackets, the National Marine Manufacturers Association announced.

The association said the rulemaking signals that the Coast Guard is "seriously considering approving an inflatable life jacket standard that will remove the bar of inflatable life jackets for youth ages 16 and under."

Such a move would encourage youth life jacket wear as a result of the innovative design and comfort benefits of inflatable life jackets.

"NMMA thanks the Personal Flotation Device Manufacturers Association for their continued work to bring life jacket approval regulatory reform to the table and applauds the USCG's response and efforts to begin moving forward on addressing regulatory reform," NMMA president Thom Dammrich said in a statement.

"We're encouraged by the steps the USCG is taking to not only expand the laboratories approved to test life jackets, but to evaluate inflatable life jacket wear among youth," he added. "While much work remains to be done to adequately encourage life jacket innovation and wear, these efforts are a solid first step.  Ultimately, moving forward with life jacket regulatory reform will result in more innovative and cost-effective life jackets for consumers, increasing wear."

Click here to view the full rule making.