Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

Consumer-funded, volunteer staff

Helmets Children Promotions Statistics Search

A Visit to the former CPSC Lab in 2003

Summary: This page is obsolete! CPSC opened their new National Product Testing and Evaluation Center in Rockville, Maryland, in 2011. Here is our tour of the new lab.

The Old Lab

In 2003 the Consumer Product Safety Commission's test labs were located in Gaithersburg, Maryland, just north of Washington DC. In this location the Commission performed all compliance testing for its bicycle helmet standard. This is historic. CPSC has a whole new lab now. CPSC lab photo 1 The buildings were old, but well kept. The site was once a test facility for the Defense Department's Nike rocket program. CPSC lab photo 2 The helmet test lab, located with equipment for other types of testing, got a new test rig in 2001. CPSC lab photo 3 The lab compared well with others we have seen. The staff has a thorough understanding of the test protocols and applies them conscientiously. In this photo Rick McCallion prepares to drop a demonstration helmet for a tour group with a mouse click. (This is not actual CPSC compliance testing!) CPSC lab photo 4 The monorail test rig and data acquisition equipment were supplied by Biokinetics in Ottawa, Canada. CPSC lab photo 5 Lower part of the monorail, showing the velocity gate on the right. CPSC lab photo 6 Headforms and anvils came from Cadex, another Canadian supplier. The anvils are chromed. CPSC lab photo 7 From left: wet sample immersion tank, hot and cold conditioning equipment, rolloff test apparatus. CPSC lab photo 8 CPSC developed this design for testing strap stretch and strength. CPSC lab photo 9 Senior Engineer George Sushinsky demonstrating crib test equipment in another area of the lab. George has since retired. CPSC lab photo 10 After a tour of the lab and a briefing from the staff, we had confidence in the validity of CPSC's helmet test results in that period. These photos were taken on June 13, 2003. Since then CPSC has moved to a whole new lab