This paper presents proposed models for assessing the aggregate performance of personal flotation devices (PFDs) by using risk methods. The aggregate performance is used to quantify the probability of a PFD saving lives following marine events. The models provide a formal structure and consistency to an approval process for new and novel engineering designs of such devices. They can also aid in identifying critical factors for evaluating the minimum level of performance necessary for approval. Such models could complement and enhance current standards and could result in significant safety improvements through the implementation of new technologies and designs. Such models could also aid in evaluating other new and innovative classes of engineering designs and designs for special needs. Also, they encourage creativity in system design by increasing the design domain and provide an overall performance measure allowing for trade-off analysis. The models can ultimately provide guidance in the development of future standards. The risk-based models consist of three recommended computational procedures for inherently buoyant, inflatable, and hybrid PFDs. Special panels of experts from the CORD Group, Canada, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Underwriters Laboratories (UL), IMANNA Laboratories, Inc., and PFD Manufacturing Association (PFDMA) evaluated these models and provided recommended values by using formal expert opinion elicitation.

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