Helmet Certification

Discussion in 'UK and Europe' started by Danny Colyer, May 28, 2003.

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  1. Danny Colyer

    Danny Colyer Guest

    Has anyone else noticed that in recent years it's been impossible to find a helmet in the UK bearing
    any certification mark other than 'CE'?

    And does anyone else find this frustrating when the cycling press advises us to look for
    certification along the lines of Snell and CPSC, pointing out that the CE mark does not signify a
    safety standard but rather that the manufacturing process conforms to EU regulations?

    I'm currently in the market for a new lid, and I find it frustrating. But as it seems unlikely that
    the various foreign standards have stopped operating, and as many helmets are probably produced for
    a global market, it occurred to me that perhaps some of these helmets _do_ meet those standards, but
    the certification isn't displayed in EU countries for some reason.

    So I tried on various helmets and found the one that's most comfortable for my head shape (the Giro
    Eclipse). I then checked the manufacturer's website. The European section of the website, under
    helmet specifications, shows the only certification to be 'CE'. The North American section of the
    website, OTOH, shows the only certification to be 'CPSC'.

    "Interesting," thought I. So if the helmet I want conforms to a standard that cyclists are advised
    to look for, why would it not be marketed as conforming to that standard? Could it be that helmets
    for the European market are manufactured to different standards than their North American
    equivalents? Or could it be that EU regulations forbid manufacturers from displaying certification
    marks that aren't recognised by the EU? The simplest way to find out seemed to be to e-mail the
    manufacturer, so that's what I did.

    The reply that landed in my inbox this evening was much more surprising. Apparently "the CPSC mark
    is not universally meaningful to consumers, and it's meaningless to certification requirements
    across Europe."

    I have pointed out in response that: "The CPSC mark is meaningful to many consumers, particularly
    those willing to pay for the best helmet available. This is probably in large part because cycling
    publications, when reviewing helmets, tend to advise us to look for Snell or CPSC certification.
    These are usually recommended as the most demanding standards, with CE supposedly referring to
    conformity in manufacturing processes, rather than to any particular safety standards."

    I also mentioned that: "I'm aware that standards seem to have changed fairly rapidly over the last
    few years. It can be difficult for consumers to remain up to date with the changes - this is the
    downside of continually improving standards!"

    And that "Incidentally, the British Department for Transport has a website recommending ANSI or
    Snell - clearly the Government has even more difficulty than consumers in keeping up to date:
    http://www.cyclesense.net/fset.htm " (ANSI was replaced some time ago by ASTM, which has since been
    replaced by CPSC. According to Giro, Snell has also been pretty much superseded by CPSC, so this is
    the standard that the DfT should be advising us to look for).

    Most surprising of all, under the circumstances, was the assertion that: "In markets where
    consumers have a choice, they can choose a helmet which meets the most important or applicable
    criteria to them."

    Somewhat ironic, I thought, and countered with: "Only if the packaging makes clear which criteria
    are met by the helmet. In the current UK market, all helmets are marked 'CE' and no helmets appear
    to be marked with any other certification. This makes it extremely difficult to compare the
    standards met by different helmets."

    Anyway, I still intend to buy a Giro Eclipse. I would probably already have bought it if it was
    labelled as conforming to CPSC standards.

    And for those who are curious, while e-mailing Giro I took the opportunity to ask what the correct
    pronunciation is. The reply is "'Jee-ro'. It's derived from the Italian word for tour', as in the
    Giro d'Italia." Which is what I'd always suspected, but it's nice to know for sure.

    Danny Colyer (remove safety to reply) ( http://www.juggler.net/danny ) Recumbent cycle page:
    http://www.speedy5.freeserve.co.uk/recumbents/ "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -
    Thomas Paine

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