life jackets water sports

Regulations for life jackets water sports

1. The PPE directive, legal regulation in the EU for personal protective equipment

The European PPE Directive (Personal Protective Equipment Directive) 89/686/EG sets clear requirements for the manufacture and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The Personal Protective Equipment Directive has been in effect since July 1, 1992. It was transposed into national law by the 8th Ordinance on the GPSG and granted a transitional period until June 30, 1995. Since July 1, 1995, PPE can only be placed on the market in the EU if they comply with the provisions of this directive .

Life jackets for pleasure craft are subject to this regulation according to Annex II, point 3.4. They go through a type test by a so-called Notified Body of the various EU countries according to ISO 12402, which not only includes their function, but also the testing of all essential individual components such as foils, fabrics, straps and fittings. If the tests are successful, they are awarded the CE mark

Therefore, pay attention to the CE mark on life jackets, as only these products offer the appropriate level of safety.

2. ISO Standard 12402, standard for lifejackets

The standard DIN EN ISO 12402 consists of ten parts with the main title "Personal Flotation Devices". This includes life jackets and swimming aids. 

  • DIN EN ISO 12402-2: The standard specifies the safety requirements for life jackets with a buoyancy of 275 N. This level applies primarily to use on the high seas in extreme conditions and for people who carry additional weights and need additional buoyancy. It is also intended for users wearing clothing that can trap air and affect the lifejacket's ability to self-right. The purpose of the 275N level lifejackets is to ensure that the user swims in a safe position with the mouth and nose above the water surface.

  • DIN EN ISO 12402-3:
    The standard specifies the safety requirements for lifejackets with a buoyancy of 150N, used by adults of average size and weight for general use. A lifejacket of this level turns an unconscious person into a safe floating position and no further action is required from the user to maintain this floating position.

  • DIN EN ISO 12402-4:
    The standard relates to safety requirements for lifejackets with a buoyancy of 100N, used by adults of average height and weight in sheltered waters and by swimmers in open waters. Vests of this level are intended for people who have to wait for rescue in sheltered waters. Lifejackets of this level should not be used in severe conditions.

  • DIN EN ISO 12402-5:
    The standard specifies the safety requirements for swimming aids with a buoyancy of at least 50 N. These buoyancy aids are only intended for use by good swimmers near shore or shore or where help and rescue can be readily obtained. These buoyancy aids are comfortable to wear, but are not suitable for choppy waters. It cannot be assumed that the user will be securely supported for a long period of time. The buoyancy aids do not have sufficient buoyancy to protect those who cannot help themselves and require active participation from the user.

  • DIN EN ISO 12402-7:
    Materials and components - Safety requirements and test methods

  • DIN EN ISO 12402-9:
    The standard specifies the test methods for personal buoyancy aids. In addition to details on sampling and conditioning, as well as criteria for passing or failing a test, the standard includes numerous methods for testing mechanical properties and human performance testing. Reference vests for adults, children and infants are described in three appendices for assessing the suitability of the subjects.

3. ISO Standard 12401, standard for safety belts and safety lines

A life belt (harness) is essential for securing on board. Safety lines ensure a firm connection between the crew member and the ship (sports boats).

A safety belt or harness - sometimes also called a life belt - is a belt that is placed around the upper body, usually the chest. The harness is made of flexible webbing and has a fitting, typically a D-ring, to which a safety or lifeline can be attached. With the harness and the safety line there is then a connection between the crew member and the ship. The safety belt is already integrated in many life jackets. The safety line is attached to the corresponding D-ring.

Safety belts and safety lines manufactured to ISO 12401 provide the user with a high degree of assurance that they will remain securely connected to the boat.

Equally important, a convenient and easy-to-carry design encourages the user to carry their equipment with them for the entire duration they are on board a boat, rather than stowing it in a locker for emergencies. Comfort and freedom of movement are important factors when deciding whether to wear seat belts. These are intended to prevent the wearer from falling into the water or to facilitate retrieval on deck.

Make sure that your care or safety lines meet the ISO 12401 standard.