Personal flotation devices (PFDS) and lifejackets

July 12, 2018

PFDs and life jackets save lives. Whatever flotation device you choose it should be the right device for the job and should fit and be comfortable to work in while meeting the following Federal requirements:

  • Your PFD or lifejacket must provide a minimum buoyancy of 69 Newtons (7.03 kg / 15.5 lb).
  • Check that your device has a permanent label or permanent marking showing it meets a standard acceptable to Transport Canada, Canadian Coast Guard or Fisheries and Oceans Canada. To make it easier to spot you if you fall overboard, your flotation device must have white or silver retro-reflective material fitted on the surfaces that normally remain above the water surface.
  • If your PFD or lifejacket is not inherently buoyant, it must be automatically inflatable and also have a manual inflation system.
    Wear your auto-inflatable flotation device over your clothing. Do not attach anything to it that might prevent it from inflating when needed.

In New Brunswick, general regulation 91-191 s. 51 (2) and s. 51(3). S. 51(2) cites the same standards for lifejackets and PFDs as the Federal Regulation. S. 51(3) has a requirement similar to the Federal Regulation, requiring that retro-reflective material is fitted on the surfaces that normally remain above the water.


A device with a buoyancy rating of 69 Newtons (7.03 kg / 15.5 lb) is designed to keep a conscious person’s head above the water.

A device with a 93 Newtons (9.48 kg/ 20.9 lb) buoyancy rating should be used for people who work alone because they are designed to provide enough support for the head, neck and chest to turn an unconscious person face-up in the water (self-righting). For the purposes of water safety, working alone means you are not in eyesight or earshot of another person who is in a position to immediately come to your aid if you fall in the water.

Harness-type PFD meets the 93 Newtons (9.48 kg / 20.9 lb) requirement and is designed to wear while working.

Keyhole lifejacket meets both the 93 Newtons and Transport Canada requirements used for abandon ship but is not designed to wear while working.


Adapted with the kind permission of WorkSafeBC.

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