Coast Guard Opts for PFDs Rulemaking

The agency announced that one adverse comment caused it to withdraw a direct final rule to harmonize its standards with current industry consensus standards.

A direct final rule has been shelved that would have harmonized the U.S. Coast Guard's standards for recreational personal flotation devices (PFDs) with current industry consensus standards. USCS announced it has withdrawn the rule, which it published March 30, 2011, and will instead proceed with a standard rulemaking.

One adverse comment caused the withdrawal. The direct final rule would have updated 46 CFR part 160, subpart 160.076, by referencing newer editions of Underwriters Laboratories standards, specifically by removing test methods, acceptance criteria, and other standards made redundant by the newer UL editions. These changes would have taken effect Sept. 26, 2011.

The adverse comment expressed concern that deleting the words "approved for use by adults only" would create a perception that inflatable PFDs for youths would be available when this rule went into effect, would facilitate teens using existing inflatable PFDs, and would enable the marketing of existing inflatable PFDs to youths. The commenter also said the direct final rule is premature in light of the work that still needs to be done to evaluate sizing requirements for infant or child PFDs.

"Because the Coast Guard considers these concerns to be adverse comments, the Coast Guard is withdrawing the direct final rule. The Coast Guard will seek comment on the commenter's concerns in the forthcoming notice of proposed rulemaking," the agency's notice stated.

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