Swimming & flotation aids

The mandatory standard prescribes marking, design and construction, and performance requirements for swimming and flotation aids.

About swimming and flotation aids

Swimming and flotation aids come in several forms that children can either wear, have attached to their bodies or sit in, to gain confidence through water familiarisation or to assist them in acquiring unaided buoyancy through swimming tuition. Swimming and flotation aids may be designed as, but are not limited to, armbands or cuffs, attached rings, seats or swimming vests.

The mandatory standard applies to swimming and flotation aids made for children under 14 years of age.

Exclusions

The mandatory standard excludes:

  • a flotation toy
  • an unattached flotation device
  • an article designed only for therapeutic use
  • an article designed for use by disabled persons
  • a personal flotation device for use in boating or other recreational water activities.

Mandatory standard

The Consumer Goods (Swimming and Flotation Aids) Safety Standard 2017 sets out the mandatory requirements for swimming and flotation aids.

The mandatory standard is based on requirements of the voluntary Australian standard AS/NZS 1900:2014 Flotation aids for water familiarization and swimming tuition. The AS/NZS 1900:2014 standard is available from SAI Global, and can be viewed at an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission office by prior arrangement and subject to licensing conditions.

The mandatory standard also provides a transitional period which allows compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Standard for Swimming Aids for Water Familiarisation and Swimming Tuition (Consumer Protection Notice No.3 of 2009 until 19 December 2019.

Design and construction

The mandatory standard prescribes requirements for design and construction, including:

  • finish
  • source of buoyancy
  • valves
  • metal parts
  • migration of certain elements
  • webbing or tapes
  • sewed fabric
  • small parts.

Performance

The mandatory standard contains requirements to minimise incidences of failure, degradation and lack of buoyancy of swimming and flotation aids, including:

  • buoyancy of flotation aids
  • strength of attachment assembly
  • resistance to heat
  • valves
  • resistance to leakage and bursting
  • resistance of marking to abrasion
  • resistance of marking to chlorinated water and ultraviolet light
  • buoyancy of cellular material
  • fastener security
  • sequence of testing.

Marking

All swimming and flotation aids shall be legibly marked, in a colour contrasting with the background, with information on the name or trademark of the manufacturer or supplier in Australia and manufacturing batch identification, with the following warning information:

For flotation aids

For all flotation aids, except swimming aid vests, the following words, in block uppercase letters not less than 6 mm in height when the aid is in a deflated state: WARNING WILL NOT PROTECT AGAINST DROWNING USE ONLY UNDER CONSTANT SUPERVISION

For swimming aid vests

For swimming aid vests, the following words, in block uppercase letters no less than 6 mm in height when the aid is in a deflated state: WARNING WILL NOT PROTECT AGAINST DROWNING USE ONLY UNDER CONSTANT SUPERVISION NOT FOR USE IN BOATING

These markings are intended to highlight to parents and carers the risk of reliance on swimming and flotation aids as a safety device.

If a label is used to carry a warning, the label shall be subject to tests. After testing a label must remain permanently attached to a swimming or flotation aid and the wording of the warning must remain legible.

The warning must be in the order of words shown above and be placed in a conspicuous position allowing visibility by a supervisor while worn, on the outermost surface of the aid, and shall not be combined with or accompanied by any other words or matter (including illustrations) that would contradict or obscure the meaning of the wording.

For packaging

The mandatory standard also prescribes marking of packaging that shall be clear, in a conspicuous position in a colour contrasting with the background and in lettering not less than 6mm in height. The clearly marked packaging should carry the following information:

  • the purpose of the swimming and flotation aid
  • the age and body mass range of the person for whom the swimming and flotation aid is designed.

Where a swimming and flotation aid is sold without packaging, the above marking requirement shall apply to any shipping outer or display unit in which the product may be displayed at the point of sale. If a removable label is attached to the product and there is no other packaging, the marking requirements shall apply to the label.   

Additional information

The mandatory standard also prescribes that all information for the safe use of swimming and flotation aids shall be supplied with the product and, be marked on the packaging or in the form of a leaflet or booklet supplied with the aid. The information shall include the following minimum advice:

  • how to fit the aid correctly
  • for inflatable flotation aids, that the flotation aid should be fully inflated
  • a reminder of the requirement for the wearer to be under constant, competent supervision, that the supervisor should be within arm’s reach of the wearer, and that the flotation aid will not prevent drowning
  • how to check the aid for signs of wear and tear, and when to replace the aid
  • care and storage of the aid.

Complying with the mandatory standard during transitional period

This mandatory standard currently includes a transition period to assist with the changeover to the new mandatory standard.

Up to 19 December 2019, suppliers have the option to comply with the requirements from either the Consumer Goods (Swimming and Flotation Aids) Safety Standard 2017 or the Consumer Product Safety Standard for Swimming Aids for Water Familiarisation and Swimming Tuition (Consumer Protection Notice No.3 of 2009).

From 20 December 2019 suppliers must only comply with the requirements in Consumer Goods (Swimming and Flotation Aids) Safety Standard 2017.

More information is available in the Explanatory Statement available on the Federal Register of Legislation website.