Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at

August 2, 1991

Mr. F. Ridgely Todd, Jr.
Diforte Innovations Inc.
3510 Northwind Road
P.O. Box 8537
Baltimore, Maryland 21234

Dear Mr. Todd:

This correspondence is in response to your May 30, 1991 letter to Mr. Gerald P. Reidy.

You indicated in your letter that the U.S. Coast Guard is in the process of reviewing and classifying the D-40 Life Belt as a Type V equal to Type III personal floatation device (PFD). Although you did not specifically indicate, it is our understanding that the D-40 Life Belt would be classified as a Type V "Hybrid Inflatable" PFD. All hybrid PFD's which are approved by the U.S. Coast Guard have specific restrictions with respect to their approved use. For Type V Hybrid Inflatable PFD's the U.S. Coast Guard can grant type approval as either a recreational hybrid or a commercial hybrid. A recreational hybrid PFD is approved for use on recreational boats. A commercial hybrid PFD is approved for use on commercial vessels. Each PFD is specifically marked with text which includes, the type of approval for use and any restrictions that apply. For example a Type V Hybrid Inflatable could be marked with text which includes one of the two following statements: (1) "Recreational Hybrid Inflatable - Approved for use only on recreational boats" or (2) "Commercial Hybrid PFD - Approved for use on inspected commercial vessels as a WORK VEST only." It is noted that this is an example only and that other restrictions may apply with respect to both recreational and commercial hybrid PFD's.

You requested that we provide you with written verification indicating that any U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD of the proper type will meet OSHA standards. When making compliance determinations involving employees in situations which require personal flotation devices, OSHA currently accepts U.S. Coast Guard devices approved as a Type I PFD, Type II PFD, Type III PFD or Type V PFD, or their equivalent if the restrictions marked on the PFD do not preclude its use. A Type V Hybrid Inflatable PFD marked as "Recreational Hybrid Inflatable" would not be in compliance with Federal OSHA standards since the PFD is approved only for recreational use, and not for commercial use or use as a work vest. A Type V Hybrid Inflatable PFD marked for "Commercial Use", "Use as a Work Vest", or "Approved for use on All Vessels" would be recognized as being in compliance with Federal OSHA standards. Applicable OSHA standards pertaining to PFD's include: 29 CFR 1926.106, [29 CFR 1915.158], 29 CFR 1917.95 and [29 CFR 1918.105].

Should you have any questions regarding this matter or require further assistance, please call [Directorate of Enforcement Programs, Office of Maritime Enforcement, at (202) 693-2399]. Your interest in occupational safety and health is appreciated.


Roy F. Gurnham, Esq., P.E., Director
[Office of Maritime Enforcement]



[Correction 5/28/2004. Note: For workers engaged in construction activities, the 4/2/2004 letter to Mr. Pete Kelley supersedes information provided in this letter.]