Life Jackets – Australian Standard Changes

How To: Canoeing (Australian Geographic: Adventure)

Life Jackets – Australian Standard Changes

Clear explanation of recent changes from Scouts Queensland

Posted on 16.02.2021

A clear explanation of the recent changes to the Australian Standard for lifejackets supplied by Peter Gould, Branch Commissioner (Adventurous Activities), Scouts Queensland.

Life Jackets are very topical with the changes in the Australian Standard. We have gained further advice from the State Government and I can share with you the following dot points:

  • If the Jacket is marked with the new Australian Standard 4758, you do not have an issue
  • If your Jacket is marked with a date of manufacturer and the jacket is more than 10 years old, then replacement needs to be planned

If the Jacket meets the old standard then the following applies:

  • The current standard for lifejackets in Australia is AS 4758, originally published in 2008. Compliance with this standard was mandated in Queensland with the commencement of the Transport Operations (Marine Safety) Regulation 2016 (the regulation) on 1 September 2016 (see s22).
  • In recognition of the fact that at the commencement of the regulation many people still had serviceable lifejackets that complied with the superseded standards, the regulation included a transitional provision, s225, that deemed these older lifejackets to be compliant with AS 4758 until the end of their serviceable life.
  • To take advantage of this ‘grandfathering’, the lifejackets (used by Scouts Queensland Formations) must have been in use prior to 1 September 2016, and must still be serviceable. This information is contained on the Maritime Safety Queensland web page about lifejacket standards.
  • The regulation states that the end of the serviceable life of a lifejacket occurs when the lifejacket needs to be replaced because it is irreparable, unserviceable, incapable of being restored to its original condition, or has reached the end of its serviceable life as stated by its manufacturer.
  • The marine environment is harsh, and any lifejackets that are faded, torn, damaged, or that have lost buoyancy are no longer serviceable and should be replaced in the interest of safety.

In summary, (Scouts Queensland Formations may continue to use) lifejackets compliant with the superseded standards may continue to be used if they were acquired prior to 1 September 2016, and if they remain serviceable. Any lifejackets acquired after that date, and any lifejackets purchased to replace deteriorated lifejackets, must comply with AS 4758.

Peter Gould, Branch Commissioner (Adventurous Activities)

Maritime Safety Queensland

Paddle Australia - Lifejackets

Paddle Australia recommend that all participants wear an appropriate Lifejacket whose construction meets or exceeds Australian Standards for Lifejackets Level 50 at all times while on the water. Paddlers must also comply with local equipment regulations, which vary from State to State.

Lifejackets should be the correct size for the wearer and be adjusted correctly whilst on the water.

A whistle attached to the buoyancy aid for emergency use is recommended to enable a person to attract attention.

Rescue Lifejackets should comply with the previously mentioned standards for Lifejacket Level 50S. Towing cowtails must be quick release. The Lifejacket must not contain any pocket or other component that may impede paddling, normal rescue practices or exit from craft. It is highly recommended that all Lifejackets be of a bright colour.

Lifejackets should be checked and tested to ensure they meet the manufactures specifications. A Lifejackets life span can be effected by

  • Exposure to UV
  • Exposure to Salt water
  • Poor cleaning processes including duration, chemicals and drying
  • Incorrect use EG: used as a seat

Inflatable Level 150 Lifejackets are not considered suitable. They provide no buoyancy without action by the wearers, who may be incapacitated and therefore unable to inflate them.

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