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The Helmet Update

Volume 15, Issue 3e - May 18, 1998

All issues index

ASTM Standards Committee Making Progress

On May 7 and 8 ASTM's F8.53 Headgear Subcommittee met in Atlanta and worked hard on improvements to a number of its helmet standards.

The F1446 Base Standard (Describes test methods):

1. Labeling requirement changes to clarify some warnings were approved and sent on to Main Committee ballot.

2. New language on projections (smooth shells) was approved and sent on to Main Committee ballot.

3. Technical revisions are progressing to specify anvil finishes (a wet polished and chromed anvil splits helmets more easily than a wet rough anvil). Other technical changes in the works will clarify anvil dimensions in the standard's drawings, improve verification of test lab equipment performance, and improve the uniformity of retention testing. In addition, the standard may be reorganized to clarify its content.

4. A helmet strangulation case on a Canadian playground was discussed and a task group will look into the incident and determine if there is a buckle design possible that would prevent it without loss of performance for normal crashes. There are still no reported deaths in the U.S. from this problem, probably because of our playground equipment specs.

Bicycle Helmet standard

1. The committee appointed a task group to draft changes to ensure that our standard is equal to or surpasses the CPSC bicycle helmet standard that becomes law on March 10. 1999.

2.The committee is discussing limits on shell projections or shell friction tests to require smoother shells.

3. A forward field of vision requirement will be balloted for discussion, despite our objection that it will not help and will result in less protective helmets for most riders.

4. An attempt to merge the identical bicycle and inline skating helmet standards was voted down.

Infant-toddler Bicycle Helmets

This new standard was sent on the ASTM Committee on Standards for final approval and publication.

Downhill Bicycle Racing Helmets

Sent back for revision and reballoting.

Ski Helmet standard

This draft standard was discussed and sent forward for Main Committee ballot. It is at least six months from publication.

Skateboard Helmets

Discussed and sent forward to Main Committee ballot. Some new changes will be balloted at the same time.

Whitewater Helmets

This draft standard was discussed and sent back for reballot.

Rodeo Helmet standard

A task group report was discussed and additional information will be sought.

Equestrian Helmets

A task group will ballot clarifications to various provisions.

Roller Hockey Helmets

This draft standard was discussed.

Soccer Helmets

A task group will look into the need for a soccer helmet standard.

Details are in the draft ASTM minutes for the meeting.

CPSC Will be the Primary Standard by 1999

The Consumer Product Safety Commission's standard for bicycle helmets will become law on March 10, 1999. It can be used by manufacturers as an interim standard in the meantime, and the stickers are beginning to emerge. They should be in stores by the middle of the year. The standard is close enough to the ASTM standard to permit most of the ASTM helmets on the market to meet it.

During the ASTM meetings earlier this month there was discussion of where the ASTM standard should fit in the post-CPSC world. Some manufacturers indicated that they would not be labeling their helmets with the ASTM label once the CPSC standard is widely known. We believe that the standards question becomes moot for most consumers when there is a law requiring a helmet to meet the current industry standard. When was the last time you checked a seat belt for a standards sticker? In most cases a buyer won't even have to look in the helmet for a standards sticker. So the message becomes simpler: buy a helmet that fits you. For the few who do research before buying, a Snell B-95 sticker is still the premium standard.

The ASTM committee discussed possible strategies for its bicycle helmet standard and appointed a task group to draft language revising the ASTM standard to make sure that it equals or exceeds CPSC's requirements. After that, the committee will be considering improvements that will eventually surpass the CPSC standard in some respects. Since it is likely that revisions of the CPSC standard will be slow and infrequent, ASTM's changes may serve to lead CPSC along a consensus path to upgrades.

The CPSC standard is on our website.

The Helmet Update - Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
Randy Swart, Editor
4611 Seventh Street South
Arlington, VA 22204-1419 USA
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