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Hockey Standards Protect the Players and Guide the Game

New York, Apr 04, 2005

For months hockey fans in North America have bemoaned the dearth of action on the ice since labor disputes in the National Hockey League (NHL) led to a lockout and the canceling of the season in the fall of 2004. While labor discussions endure, other more practical matters of the game are being addressed – such as new designs for the size and shape of goals and the requirements of safety equipment like helmets. While the pros may have spent their time away from the rink, amateur hockey players both young and old still took to the ice, and a number of standards for hockey equipment keep them protected.

U.S. hockey rules require players to wear a hockey helmet that meets approved international standards. The Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC) is an independent certification body for amateur hockey equipment (primarily head protection) that was created USA Hockey in 1978. USA Hockey mandates the use of HECC Certified Equipment, which has been tested and meets the requirements of the most appropriate performance standards. HECC certified equipment is also required by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) (facemasks only). HECC utilizes standards developed by recognized standard developing organizations such as American National Standards Institute member ASTM International.

ASTM International’s Subcommittee F08.53 on Headgear and Helmets is one of the most active in Committee F08 on Sports Equipment and Facilities, and now works with Subcommittee F08.15 on Ice Hockey to develop standards for helmets for ice hockey and in-line hockey:

  • ASTM F1045-04, Standard Performance Specification for Ice Hockey Helmets. This covers performance tests for shock absorption properties of the complete helmet and strength and elongation of the chin strap and its attachment, and requirements for area of coverage and penetration.

  • ASTM F513-00, Standard Safety Specification for Eye and Face Protective Equipment for Hockey Players. This specification is intended to reduce the demonstrated hazards associated with the sport of ice hockey involving the face including eyes.

  • ASTM F1587-99, Standard Specification for Head and Face Protective Equipment for Ice Hockey Goaltenders. This standard covers specifications and conformity assessment methods for new head and face protectors for ice hockey goaltenders, as offered for initial sale.

In Canada, all hockey helmets must meet safety standards set by the Canadian Standards Association; those that do not are considered hazardous products. “Hockey helmets are intended to reduce the risk of serious localized injury to the skull and brain, such as skull fractures and brain contusions,” says Dr. Pat Bishop, professor emeritus of kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and chairman of the CSA committee that sets standards for hockey helmets. The Canadian Hockey Association (CHA) cites the use of CSA-certified helmets as a mandatory requirement for players in the senior, junior, minor and women’s leagues.

Some standards have a scope that goes beyond the equipment that a player wears. ASTM F1703-04, Standard Guide for Ice Hockey Playing Facilities, applies to the development of new arenas and to existing facilities that will be renovated. The intent of this guide is to provide consistent safety considerations in the design and construction of new ice hockey rinks in order to reduce potential safety hazards. It is intended to standardize game conditions and establish guidelines that will provide a level of conformity for the purpose of competition and reduce potential hazards to players and game officials. This guide should be taken into consideration by architects, designers, engineers, construction companies, construction contractors, and appropriate inspectors who may be involved in the design and construction of new ice hockey rinks.

ANSI Nanotechnology Standards Panel