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Coast Guard seeks to change PFD type codes

The Coast Guard issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on Wednesday to remove references to type codes in regulations on the carriage and labeling of the personal flotation devices it approves.

PFD type codes are unique to Coast Guard approval and are not well understood by the general public, the agency said. The current PFD type code classification system would be redesigned to focus on performance criteria rather than construction standards.

A new, easy-to-understand label concept is intended to help professional mariners and recreational boaters select the best device for their intended use and route.

Removal of the current PFD type codes from carriage and labeling requirements would assist future incorporation by reference of new industry consensus standards for PFD labeling that will more effectively convey safety information without the use of type codes and is a step toward harmonizing Coast Guard regulations with PFD requirements in Canada and other countries.

“Life jackets that are currently Coast Guard-approved and serviceable are still perfectly safe to use and are not made obsolete by the proposed standards. This rule simply streamlines the use of PFD type codes to pave the way for future alignment with one international standard,” Brandi Baldwin, P.E., Lifesaving and Fire Safety Division, Office of Design and Engineering Standards at Coast Guard headquarters, said in a statement.

The notice of proposed rulemaking and related materials can be seen at www.regulations.gov, Docket No. USCG-2013-0263.

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