8 March 2005
With magnificent coastline and nowhere being too far from the sea or lakes, New Zealanders spend a great deal of time in or on the water. However, figures from Water Safety New Zealand show that drowning is the country’s third highest cause of accidental death, with around 130 people dying in the water every year. With these figures in mind, improving water safety in New Zealand is vitally important.
Standards New Zealand (SNZ) is currently addressing one of the issues of water safety by undertaking a revision of the Standard NZS 5823 Buoyancy aids and marine safety harnesses and lines.
Lisa Tipping, SNZ general manager business relationships, explains why the revision is being made, “The revision was initiated to address concerns that some people in the sector have. These include the feeling that existing buoyancy devices were not always accompanied by enough information to ensure purchasers were able to select the most appropriate device for their intended use. In addition, the revision provided us with an opportunity to consider other international improvements and changes in the production of buoyancy aids, safety harnesses and lines.”
The changes to the Standard include:
Significant changes to the labelling requirements and the information required on swing-tags. This specifically relates to what a device will or will not do, fitting and sizing instructions including chest size in addition to weight
The ability to attach crotch straps to adult buoyancy aids. This would be accompanied by a recommendation that these will reduce the risk of a device riding-up
That in-shore water lifejackets (technically known as 402s) are no longer referred to as lifejackets but as ‘personal flotation devices’ (PFD’s) and that they carry appropriate warnings
Formalising the current certification requirement to include 10% more buoyancy material to allow for a variance in buoyancy as a result of crushing
The revised Standard will perform the same function as its predecessor, by serving as a guide to manufacturers, purchasers and users of the equipment to ensure their equipment provides effective performance. Additionally, it will be referenced in a number of marine rules, administered by the Maritime Safety Authority. It is also important that designers make the wearing of the equipment as comfortable and attractive as possible. By doing so, users may be encouraged to wear it rather than stowing it in a locker for emergency use.
The Standard sets out minimum buoyancy requirements for different types of buoyancy aids. This includes a requirement for aids to be clearly marked with both their buoyancy and classification to assist users with selecting the correct one for their needs. Therefore, if an aid is marked ‘In-shore waters personal floatation device’, the user will know that it is an aid for people who will only be visiting in-shore waters and, in the event of an accident, would anticipate an early rescue.
The Standard NZS 5823:2005 Buoyancy aids and marine safety harnesses and lines is scheduled for publication by May 2005.