Swimming Aids (PPE) Total Quality Assurance Solutions

Swimming aids include flotation-type devices that are usually used to help swimmers learn how to swim, and in the case of emergency, keep wearers safely above water by giving people buoyancy. Depending on where the products are marketed, some types of swimming aids are subject to PPE Regulations in markets such as the EU/UK and Australia.

European Union and the United Kingdom

For swimming aids that fall into the scope of the European PPE Regulation, Intertek offers comprehensive testing and certification services to support manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. Our swimming aids testing capabilities include verifying compliance to various functional, physical, and mechanical requirements according to the requirements of the applicable safety standard EN 13138-1.

What kind of Swimming Aids are in the scope of the PPE Regulation?

Armbands, swimming vests, and back floats are covered by the scope of the PPE Regulation. These products are specifically intended to support the wearer whilst they are learning to swim. Other similar products, such as swimming rings or kickboards, are not classified as PPE.

Under the PPE Regulation, these products are classified as Category 2 PPE, which means that an EU Type examination is required by a Notified Body in EU (or Type examination is to be carried out by the Approved Body in the UK).

The test standard that applies to these products in EU/UK is EN 13138-1. Testing to this standard is the first step in the conformity assessment process.

Below is a summary of the key requirements of EN 13138-1:

EN 13138-1Test descriptionDescription or requirements
Clause 5.2BuoyancyMinimum buoyancy according to its intended user age/weight; Residual buoyancy after deflation of one air chamber
Clause 5.3Design, fit and positioningSecurely fit and shall not displace accidentally; two simultaneous or sequential actions for buckle release; free from sharp points or edges and no small part released with a 90N pull
Clause 5.5Mechanical propertiesRemain airtight after seam strength and cyclic pressure test; no leakage after sharp probe puncture, materials resist to compression and water absorption
Clause 7Warnings and markingsMarkings remain legible after rub cycles; warning content and format on device/packaging in text and/or pictograms; information supplied by the manufacturer

Once testing to EN 13138-1 has been completed, the conformity assessment body (EU Notified Body or UK Approved Body) can review the test data together with other technical documentation about the product. When the conformity certificate is issued, the importer or distributor may affix the CE Mark for EU (or UKCA Mark for the UK) to the product in accordance with the requirements of the PPE Regulation.

Australia

Swimming and flotation aids are regulated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) under the Australian Consumer Law. These products need to comply with the mandatory standard, Consumer Goods (Swimming and Flotation Aids) Safety Standard 2017, before they can be marketed in Australia.

What kind of Swimming Aids are in the scope of the Consumer Goods (Swimming and Flotation Aids) Safety Standard?

This mandatory standard adopts and modifies AS NZS 1900:2014 flotation aids for water familiarization and swimming tuition. It covers those flotation aids that are intended for children under 14 years and are designed to be worn on or attached to the user’s body or sat in by the user. Examples are swimming aid vests, attached flotation rings, armbands, flotation belts, back bubbles, and swim seats.

Here are some key requirements specified for these flotation aids in the mandatory standard AS NZS 1900:

AS NZS 1900Test descriptionDescription or requirements
Clause 2.1.2FinishFree from hazardous sharp points or sharp edges, or defects liable to impair its performance
Clause 2.3ValvesNon-return valve fitted with permanent attached stopper; shall not protrude ≥ 5mm from the surface of the device
Clause 2.5Migration of certain elementsShall conform to the requirements set out in AS NZS ISO 8124.3
Clause 3.1Buoyancy of flotation aidsShall meet the minimum buoyancy according to the type of flotation aids and category of wearer (user weight and/or age)
Clause 3.2Strength of attachment assemblyNo evidence of detachment in the assembly or slippage more than 25mm of webbing after subjected to the test weights corresponding to its intended age group/user weight
Clause 3.3Resistance to heatShall not suffer a loss of buoyancy > 10% of its initial value after being subjected to a temperature of 60 °C for 4 hours
Clause 3.4.2Resistance to leakage and burstingShow no signs of air leakage after complete immersion in water for 2 mins; no burst when the inflation chamber is inflated to 10 kPa at ambient for 2 mins
Clause 3.8.1Fastener securityRequire 2 simultaneous or sequential actions for fasteners release; or at least 50N force applied to open it
Clause 4Marking and informationShall be legibly marked, in color contrasting with the background, with the information given in the standard

Intertek has decades of experience testing and certifying swimming aids. If you have any quality assurance needs for your swimming aids, please contact our PPE experts.

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