CPSC finds no problems with buckles Consumer Reports broke
Summary: This 1997 article reported that CPSC had found no problem with the buckles that Consumer Reports said they were breaking.
CPSC Tests Find No Problems with Buckles
BY STEVE FROTHINGHAM
Article Spurs Agency to Check Helmet Buckles
BETHESDA, MD-After Consumer Reports published an article
saying some helmet buckles failed during standardized testing,
engineers at a Federal agency tried to duplicate the magazine's
For the most part, they were unable to find the same problems
the magazine's testers found. In its testing, Consumer Reports
found some buckles broke on 1996 Bell, Giro, Rollerblade and
In June, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) tested
28 sample helmets from Bell, Giro, Rollerblade and Troxel that
the agency bought from retail stores.
All but two of the helmets passed the tests with no buckle breakage.
The buckles on two Giro helmets passed Snell B-90 and ANSI Z90.4
buckle tests but broke when the CPSC tested them to the ASTM F-1447
standard. Giro has never claimed the helmets meet the ASTM standard.
"From Giro's point of view, the buckles did everything Giro
ever said they would do," said Randy Swart, executive director
of the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, a consumer group.
A federal law, enforced by the CPSC, requires that all helmets
sold in the United States meet at least one of the three most
common standards-the Snell B-90, ASTM F-1447 or ANSI Z90.4.
So while the Giro helmets failed to meet the ASTM standards, they
meet ANSI and Snell standards.
The CPSC released the test results to Swart, who earlier this
year lodged a Freedom of Information Act request to get the information.
The buckle test results are the only results the agency has released
Before the CPSC gave them to him, Giro officials requested that
a statement be added.
The statement read, in part "We are concerned that the CPSC's
statement that two Giro helmet buckles did not pass ASTM F-1447
maybe used improperly. This statement provides no c information
to consumers, and, in
fact, is misleading, because the Giro helmets satisfy the CPSC's
Interim Rule and because Giro does not claim to certify its buckles
to ASTM F-1447.
"As the CPSC would agree, the fact that two Giro helmets
&did not pass F-1447, when they fully complied with the Snell
and ANSI standards, in no way indicates that those Giro helmets
are unsafe or would fail to protect the rider in an accident."
Bill Hannemann, Giro's president, said the buckles may have broken
because they were not fully engaged. "We're trying to get
the CPSC to send us the buckles so we can take a look at them,"
Swart said there is no need for concern about Giro's buckles.
"The buckles are not breaking in the field. It's not a problem,"
Swart also said retailers should pay more attention to making
sure consumers replace broken buckles than worry about new buckles
"Some riders break off one prong of their buckle and continue
to use it. That is an unsafe buckle. It is inadequate for any
type of crash," Swart said.
Helmet manufacturers, safety groups and test labs criticized the
June issue Consumer Reports article.
Some said the article might dissuade consumers from buying their
first helmets because it emphasized the buckle breakage. Swart
noted, however, that the article avoided downgrading any helmets
due to the buckles, which indicated to him that even Consumer
Reports editors did not see a real problem.
In addition to the CPSC, several helmet and buckle manufacturers,
the Snell Memorial Foundation and other labs have conducted their
own tests, trying to duplicate the breakage that Consumer Reports
found. None have found a problem with the buckles.
Copyright 1997 by Miller Freeman, Inc, Santa Fe, New Mexico. All rights reserved.
Used with permission.