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The details of the three essential phases for the certification of protective equipment for sports in the United States are described in this paper. The initial phase includes the necessary prerequisites for the development of written objective, scientific standards based on physical tests consistent with current engineering technology. The recommended features of a certification council including the employment of a third party validator for the adherence of products to available standards are outlined in the second phase. The third and final phase consists of the communication and cooperation of rules-making organizations necessary for proper compliance and the ultimate safety of the sports participants. The model used for illustrating the entire process of certification is the Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC), a volunteer organization established in 1976 for the certification of ice hockey equipment. The fact that mandated use of certified eye and face protection has reduced the eye and facial injuries in organized ice hockey by over 99% since the program was initiated in 1978 is evidence that certification can be very effective in the reduction of injuries if properly organized and administered.
standards, certification councils, compliance, safety, injuries, athletic equipment, technology
Professor Emeritus, Penn State University, State College, PA