AMSA warns against using old kapok-filled lifejackets

Kapok lifejackets

This safety alert aims to raise awareness of the risks associated with the use of out of date, and dangerous, kapok filled lifejackets.

Kapok filled lifejackets with cotton straps are decades old and have not been manufactured since the 1980s. However, an unknown number are still being used.

Kapok is a cotton-like fluff that is no longer used in lifejacket manufacture, because it naturally loses buoyancy over time and, if it gets wet, it will absorb water. Furthermore, the cotton straps rot over time, even if the lifejacket is not used, and will tear or break off the lifejacket when weight comes on it.

While these lifejackets may have complied with the applicable standard when they were manufactured, and may have the old standards logos on them, they no longer comply with the modern Australian Standard for lifejackets and are not fit for use on any Domestic Commercial Vessel (DCV).

If one of these lifejackets has successfully been used in the past, it should still be replaced as soon as possible and destroyed, as it will have deteriorated and might not float now.

Even if these lifejackets are in their original packaging, have never been used and look in perfect condition, replace them and destroy them.


If your vessel has any kapok filled lifejackets, remove them from the vessel, destroy them and replace them with new lifejackets that meet the current standard. If you are not sure if your lifejackets are filled with kapok, ask your AMSA Accredited Marine Surveyor for assistance.


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