Buoyancy Aid Testing
Float testing of ALL buoyancy aid stock is no longer a requirement of BCU Centre Approval. It is a requirement of BCU Centre Approval that all providers must ensure each buoyancy aid is inspected prior to every use by the instructor/staff member concerned and is “fit for purpose”. In addition to this, regular formal checks should be instigated by the provider and the outcomes recorded.
If a provider currently undertakes float testing but wishes to phase this procedure out, we would recommend “random sampling” of approximately 10% of the providers current stock. This process should be recorded for a period of two seasons, or until the items are replaced.
Floating Rope Article:
This article explores the Performance of Polypropylene Ropes during Static Applications Including Tensioning and Hauling. Click here to view.
Time Expired Pyrotechnics (out of date flares):
For many years when pyrotechnics reached their expiry date, they could normally be returned to the shop that you purchased them from or your local Coast Guard or Police Station for safe disposal. However due to ever increasing "Health & Safety" reasons (safe storage and transportation) and in some coastal areas the large volume of returned time expired pyrotechnics this is now becoming increasingly difficult. The Maritime & Coastguard Agency are aware of the problem and will be soon making an announcement on how it proposes to address the matter. It will also be investigating alternative methods of signalling using up and coming technology which will hopefully reduce the issue for the future. However if you are in possession of any time expired pyrotechnics, contact your local Coast Guard and ask if they can arrange safe disposal. If they cannot, do not take them to the Police as they do not have the facilities to accept these items. Until the MCA announcement, you are advised to keep them in accordance with the original manufacturers instructions (usually safely stored in a cool, dry and dark container). It cannot be stressed enough that these items should not be disposed of in a careless or hap-hazard manner (waste bin, skip etc) due to the life threatening implications and subsequent expense of dealing with damaged pyrotechnics which then possibly maybe in a dangerous state.
Lifespan of Paddlesport Equipment
Equipment must be retired at the end of the individual manufacturers stated life span or recommendations. It is the duty of the responsible person to know this information and manage their equipment accordingly.
As we are all aware, equipment will be used in many ways, subjected to a variety of environmental conditions and types of use. A piece of equipment used in a sunny, salt water environment will have a far shorter life than the same item used in fresh water then stored in a cool, dark and well aired location. Modern materials will naturally degrade slowly over a period of time, in particular the foams used in buoyancy aids, and then some, more than others.
The general consensus from information provided by UK paddlesport manufacturers is between 3 and 5 years depending on the above. However the “caveat” is that it is the responsibility of the end user or deployer to ensure the item is “fit for purpose” and as such it is possible to damage an item and render it unfit for purpose during the first use.
For further guidance on safety issues and/or equipment deployment, you may wish to look at the Adventure Activities Licensing Service web site. In this instance Personal Buoyancy in Recreational Watersports. AALS Inspector Guidance Note IGN 7.03