Riders4Helmets is delighted to once again be hosting International Helmet Awareness Day on Saturday August 1. The Riders4Helmets campaign strives to be an excellent source of information on all aspects of helmet education to equestrians around the globe. Our mission is simple, to educate equestrians on the benefits of wearing a properly secured and fitted, certified helmet.
There have been many questions that we have received regarding the change to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) helmet standard that will come into effect in January 2016. The ASTM writes the standards for equestrian helmets in the U.S. market. Anybody can propose a change to the ASTM committee and a new addition to the standard can occur at any time, but the ASTM typically updates its standards every 5-6 years. The current ASTM standard for helmets on the U.S. market is ASTM F1163 O4a. The new standard that will come into effect in January is ASTM F1163-13.
The Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) is an independent organization that certifies helmets to make sure they meet the ASTM standard. Riders4Helmets contacted the SEI to inquire as to what the new standard means. Their response was as follows:
The change to the ASTM standard will in most cases have a minimal impact on current helmet design.
Any helmets currently labeled to meet ASTM F1163 O4a/SEI Certified status can continue to be sold after January 2016 and will not lose their certification as they passed the standard at the time they were manufactured. The certification will continue for the lifetime of the helmet.
From January 2016 onward, manufacturers must certify any helmet that they make to the new ASTM F1163 -13 standard.
Just because the SEI will start to certify helmets to a new standard starting January 2016, it does not mean helmets that are certified to the current standard are no good.
Many helmets that are currently sold on the U.S. market will not have any changes made to their design if they pass the testing, so it will basically be the same helmet.
Helmets currently on the U.S. market meet the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) requirements for protective headgear and are the best that are available today.
Individual equestrian organizations would have to say that they are no longer accepting ASTM F1163 O4a/SEI Certified helmets to make them not eligible to be worn in competitions.
Riders4Helmets contacted USEF and confirmed the following:
The USEF Safety Committee is not contemplating, or anticipating, any rule change regarding protective headgear.
There is not a rule change proposal that would amend the requirement for protective headgear, i.e., the certification standard a helmet must meet to be worn in USEF sanctioned competitions. (Note: The vast majority of equestrians who compete do not ride in USEF sanctioned competitions.)
In summary, there is no cause for concern with regard to purchasing a helmet that meets the current ASTM F1163 O4a/SEI Certification and most particularly it will continue to be accepted by USEF and you can wear it at any horse show.