Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

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ASTM F8.53 Headgear Subcommittee

Summary: The ASTM F8.53 Subcommittee sets voluntary standards for bicycle and other sports helmets.

Background on ASTM

Once known as The American Society for Testing and Materials, now formally known as ASTM International, the organization is a large and respected international standards-setting institution that sets and maintains standards and test methods for many types of materials and equipment. ASTM is a non-profit organization headquartered near Philadelphia in West Conshohocken, PA. The standards work is divided among hundreds of specialized committees, who meet periodically (the helmet and headgear subcommittee meets twice a year) to discuss, adopt and update standards. Much of the research and drafting work is undertaken between meetings. The committees are composed of producers, consumer representatives, academics, test labs and others who are active in the related field. ASTM provides the administrative framework and support for the committees, and edits and publishes the adopted standards. Selling those standards provides a large part of ASTM's financial support. For more background please consult the ASTM website.

Helmet standards are under the ASTM F8 Committee on Sports Equipment and Facilities, and further assigned to Subcommittee F8.53 on Headgear and Helmets, so the Subcommittee is referred to as F8.53 and pronounced "eff eight dot five three". The Subcommittee has more than 140 members, including all of the major U.S. helmet manufacturers and test labs, several Canadian and European manufacturers, a number of academics, some active consumer groups and at least one very helpful lawyer. The Subcommittee is responsible for at least 20 active standards. All of them are submitted by ASTM to ANSI for consideration as ANSI national standards. The Subcommittee is chaired by P. David Halstead, former helmet manufacturer and now professor at the University of Tennessee and head of an active testing lab, the Southern Impact Research Center. Vice Chairs are Rob Kinsler and Rick Greenwald of Simbex, Llc, a health gear research and manufacturing company and an Adjunct Professor of Engineering at Dartmouth. ASTM support is coordinated by Joe Koury, whose able assistance makes it possible for F8.53 to keep up with a very active agenda.

If you would like to become active in the standards development process, it is inexpensive and rewarding to work with ASTM. The ASTM website has information about membership. You should note that F8.53 is a Subcommittee of Committee F08, Sports Equipment and Facilities. Your interest and expertise would be welcome. As noted above, the ASTM staffer who attends to the needs of the F8.53 Subcommittee is Joe Koury.