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New Performance Standard for Helmets Worn on the Slopes

F 2040, Standard Specification for Helmets Used for Recreational Snow Sports, defines performance requirements for helmets worn during non-motorized alpine snow sports such as skiing, snowboarding, and tubing.

Published Sept. ’00, it was developed by ASTM Subcommittee F08.53 on Headgear and Helmets within Committee F08 on Sports Equipment and Facilities.

“I don’t know of any recreational ski environment where helmet use is required, but when the time comes, a definition of what constitutes a proper helmet can be found in F 2040,” said ASTM member Jim Sundahl, senior test engineer, Bell Sports Inc., San Jose, Calif., who developed the specification with members of the subcommittee.

“F 2040 encompasses requirements for helmets for children, adults—male and female—and helmets with and without face protection. It is the consumer’s choice. We helmet manufacturers embrace the widespread adoption of helmets in skiing of course, and we ASTM members in general are proud of having put together a good standard for consumers. We all win.”

As stated in the specification, “Although a helmet that meets this specification will help reduce the risk of some types of injuries to the head at slower speeds ... compliance with the common sense rules of the sport’s safety, including any applicable responsibility codes, is essential to help reduce the risk of personal injury.”

Increased concern for prevention of head injury in sports created heightened interest in a helmet standard for recreational snow sports. “Nine or 10 years ago the headgear subcommittee had less than 20 active members,” Sundahl said.

Over the course of a decade that number snowballed, and more than 100 diverse professionals lent their expertise to the development of F 2040, Sundahl estimated. They included “helmet manufacturers, independent test laboratories, consumer advocates, medical experts, a representative of CPSC, lawyers (primarily defense attorneys), principles of the Snell Memorial Foundation, committee members of the Canadian Standards Association, ski resort operators and others who were simply interested in the subjects that we debated and discussed in all manner of head injury scenarios.”

The standard is light on design restriction. “With F 2040 we have a higher performance requirement than the [European] CE ski helmet standard but one that is less design restrictive,” explained Sundahl. “A manufacturer can make one helmet that can pass both standards or choose one standard or the other. My company will make two models from the same basic helmet, one that passes both standards and one that is optimized for F 2040 only. Now manufacturers and their designers have a fixed target to focus on and consumers have more choices.”

Helmets tested according to F 2040 are subjected to 32 to 38°C, to -22 to -28°C temperatures. Four sample helmets are required for each shell/liner size combination; retention system testing and dynamic strength retention testing is performed prior to impact tests done with anvils at specified velocities.

“We still don’t have a competition standard nor a trick snowboarding standard,” concluded Sundahl. “We still have the issue of multiple impacts (F 2040 is single impact per impact location). We still, like any good ASTM committee, have ongoing work cut out for us.”

For further technical information, contact Jim Sundahl, senior test engineer, Bell Sports Inc., San Jose, Calif. (phone: 831/420-4072). Committee F08 meets May 9-12 in Phoenix, Ariz. For meeting or membership details, contact Staff Manager Jim Olshefsky, ASTM (phone: 610/832-9714). //

Copyright 2001, ASTM