NMMA says new rule could open way for life jacket reform

WASHINGTON — The United States Coast Guard yesterday published a direct final rule that removes exclusivity for Underwriters Laboratories (UL) as the only USCG approved lab to test inflatable life jackets. The National Marine Manufacturers Association called the move a "positive movement in support of more innovative life jackets and life jacket options for boaters."

"The rulemaking signals that the USCG is seriously considering approving an inflatable life jacket standard that will remove the bar on inflatable life jackets for youth ages 16 and under," the NMMA reported in a statement. "Such a move, if taken by the USCG, will encourage youth life jacket wear as a result of the innovative design and comfort benefits of inflatable life jackets. The rulemaking comes as a result of much work by the Personal Flotation Device Manufacturers Association (PFDMA), in conjunction with the NMMA."

Thom Dammrich, president of NMMA, thanked PFDMA for their work on the issue.

“NMMA thanks the PFDMA 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,” 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. 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.”

The full rulemaking is available here.

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