Marine Notice No. 32 of 2019
Personal Flotation Devices for Pleasure Craft and Personal Watercraft
This Marine Notice replaces Marine Notice Nos. 45 of 2012 and 10 of 2016.
Notice to all owners, masters and users of pleasure craft and personal watercraft
The purpose of this Marine Notice is to highlight the requirements for the carriage, certification, selection and wearing of Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) for pleasure craft and personal watercraft. The Marine Notice also contains recommendations on correct use for users of Personal Flotation Devices.
2. What is a Personal Flotation Device?
A PFD is:
• a lifejacket that is CE marked or wheel marked , or
• a buoyancy aid that is CE marked.
Tables B and C of this Marine Notice (see link below) provide further information on the differences between a lifejacket and a buoyancy aid and associated use.
3. Personal Flotation Device Regulations
The Pleasure Craft (Personal Flotation Devices and Operation) (Safety) Regulations 2005 (S.I. No. 921 of 2005) as amended by the Pleasure Craft (Personal Flotation Devices and Operation) (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 (S.I. No. 349 of 2012) and the Pleasure Craft (Personal Flotation Devices and Operation) (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (S.I. No. 400 of 2018), apply to pleasure craft being operated in Irish waters and to:
• any person on board a pleasure craft;
• any person being towed by a pleasure craft, or on board a craft or object of any kind being towed by a pleasure craft.
Table A of this Marine Notice provides further details on the application of the regulations to particular types/size of craft and sets out the carriage, certification and wearing requirements for PFDs on pleasure craft and personal watercraft.
There must be suitable PFDs for everyone on board any pleasure craft.
Failure to comply with the legal requirements – Fixed Payments and Fines:
Where an authorised officer has reasonable grounds for believing that a person is committing or has committed an offence under the PFD regulations, he or she may serve a fixed payment notice in the prescribed form on the person in question. The person who is alleged to have committed the offence may pay €150 during the period of 21 days from the date of the notice. Failure to pay the €150 within the 21 days will lead to the institution of prosecution proceedings and, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding €5,000.
4. Selection of Personal Flotation Devices
When selecting a PFD, it is very important to select the correct device that is suited to the particular conditions and circumstances in which it will be used. Reference should be made to Tables B, C and D of this Marine Notice, which set out the various PFD performance levels available and their associated description of use.
5. Recommendations for correct use of a Personal Flotation Device
• Users should read and understand the manufacturers’ instruction manual when they acquire a new PFD as each device may have specific user instructions.
• PFDs should be worn over all clothing and not underneath. This is to ensure that there is sufficient space for the device to inflate and that the user’s breathing is not restricted.
• PFDs should be worn in the correct position on the torso as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Hold-down devices can greatly assist in keeping the PFD in the correct position, as detailed below.
• Users should be fully familiar with the operation of their inflatable PFDs both manually and automatically.
• Automatically inflatable PFDs, which operate by means of a soluble bobbin, may activate in error if left in a damp condition. When inflatable PFDs are not being worn, they should be hung to dry vertically to ensure that all moisture drains away from the bobbin. Covers are available which reduce the problem of accidental inflation.
• Whilst not a requirement of the PFD regulations, it is recommended that anyone alone on board a craft should wear a PFD at all times regardless of weather conditions, the size of the craft or whether the craft is made fast to the shore or at anchor.
• It is recommended that all persons should wear a lifejacket at all times while on an open pleasure craft or on the deck of a decked pleasure craft.
• Where PFDs are required to be carried on board a craft, it is recommended that they are stored in a readily accessible position which may save time in an emergency situation.
• It is recommended that a PFD should be fitted with hold-down devices such as crotch straps or thigh straps which should be worn to maximise lifesaving potential and reduce the risk of the PFD riding up on the user, potentially moving it to an incorrect position. Some PFDs are sold with hold-down devices provided and others are sold with the hold-down device as an optional extra.
• Please see Appendix 1 of this Marine Notice regarding the effect of Cold Water Shock and the benefits of a correctly worn lifejacket.
6. Inspection and Servicing of Personal Flotation Devices
PFDs have a limited lifespan and require regular inspection and servicing in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Servicing should only be carried out by the manufacturers or their approved agent.
Users of PFDs should ensure that the device is inspected prior to each use as per the manufacturer’s instructions. The inspection, as a minimum, should include:
• Inspection of harness straps/stitching for damage/wear;
• Inspection of external lining for wear/damage;
• Checking that all buckles are correctly adjusted;
• Checking that all zips, buckles, fasteners, webbing straps and lights (if fitted) are functioning correctly;
• Checking all hold-down devices attached to the PFD, if fitted;
• Inflatable lifejackets – refer to manufacture’s user instructions with particular reference to the CO2 gas firing cylinder;
• Checking any marked expiry dates to confirm that there are no expired components.
If any concern exists regarding a PFD or a component following a user’s inspection, it should not be used and should be brought to an approved service agent for servicing.
This is an information notice which serves to draw attention to the relevant legislation and is not a legal interpretation of the legislation.