VSRA INFORMATION BULLETIN 1698 - CRASH HELMETS

To meet the required minimum Australian safety standards for

"protective helmets for vehicle users" (which includes motorcycle crash helmets) the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) stipulate any helmet manufactured, distributed, sold or offered for hire in Australia must meet the mandatory Consumer Product Safety Standard specified under the Trades Practices Act 1974 - Consumer Protection Notice No 9. Established in December 1990 Consumer Protection Notice No 9 adopts and varies the Australian Standard 1698-1988 (AS 1698-1988 Protective Helmets for Vehicle Users) as published by the Standards Association of Australia in May 1988. This standard covers the performance, construction, testing and labelling requirements for Australian crash helmets.

Other than for two minor variations, the consumer product safety standard applicable to protective helmets for motorcyclists for the purposes of section 65C of the Trade Practices Act 1974 is AS 1698-1988. The VSRA advises scooter riders that the stickers affixed to helmets sold in Australia showing certification to AS/NZS 1698 provides no guarantee a helmet meets the required mandatory minimum safety standards for Australia. This is because although similarly numbered AS/NZS 1698 is actually a very different standard to AS 1698-1988.

Helmet stickers for AS/NZS 1698 compliance do not guarantee even the minimum required safety standards

Therefore stickers on crash helmets such as the SAI Global "five ticks" and TÜV Rheinland stickers (as shown above) which denote certification to AS/NZS 1698 do not guarantee a helmet meets even the minimum mandatory Australian safety standards, this because AS/NZS 1698 is not the standards adopted in Australia for mandatory consumer product safety for crash helmets. The "five ticks" from SAI Global do not actually denote any particular Australian Standard; they are in fact the company’s trade mark.

Australian Standards are updated from time to time to reflect progress in science, technology and systems and this is why there is a conflict between AS/NZS 1698 and ACCC Consumer Protection Notice No 9. AS/NZS 1698 was prepared in 2006 by the Joint Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand Committee CS-076, it was updated to supersede AS 1698-1988 and NZS 5430:1992, which superseded the original Australian standard AS E33-1959. AS/NZS1698 is however a voluntary standard that uses different test methods to the more stringent AS 1698-1988, for example it removes the requirement for a helmet to have a shell with a hard outer surface.

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AS/NZS1698 is the newer standard, but not the standard stipulated in the ACCC Consumer Protection Notice No 9. The ACCC have recalled from sale dangerous motorcycle helmets sold in Australia, this because although they may have stickers certifying compliance to AS/NZS 1698, testing has found they do not meet the Australian minimum safety requirements for crash helmets required by Consumer Protection Notice No 9. Two such crash helmets are:

● Kylin XR 205 open face skull cap style helmet ● KBC VR-1X full face helmet

The VSRA suggest riders watch this space, as it is highly likely more helmets with the AS/NZS 1698 sticker will be tested and found not to meet the minimum Australian safety standards and so will also be recalled from sale by the ACCC. The current situation is therefore that some crash helmets sold in Australia certified to AS/NZS 1698 do not meet the Australian minimum safety requirements, others may meet the Australian minimum required safety standard, but as they have been certified to AS/NZS 1698 and not AS1698-1988 there can be no guarantee they do.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

What can be done to provide buyers of helmets in Australia the confidence helmets meet at least the minimum mandatory safety standards? One obvious solution is the ACCC could amend Consumer Protection Notice No 9 to include certification to AS/NZS 1698-2006. This though would surely be seen as a dumbing down of safety standards to legalise helmets that would not meet the current Australian minimum safety standards.

Another solution is to legalise in Australia Helmets certified to more exacting standards than AS/NZS 1698, such as those certified to the European standard ECE 22.05 (often referred to as Regulation No 22) which is not only an exacting safety standard, but also requires mandatory batch testing of helmets. The safety of ECE 22.05 certified helmets is therefore even further assured by sample testing during each production run and so before helmets leave the factories. This being far superior to random testing by the manufacturer performed after thousands of helmets have already been sent to distributors. This is why the ECE 22.05 standard is embraced in most European countries and helmets manufactured and certified to this exacting standard are approved for use in competitive motorcycling events not only in Europe but also by globally recognised motorcycling associations such as the USA’s AMA. It is no coincidence that Helmets certified to ECE 22.05 are used by the majority of the World’s professional motorcycle riders, yet here in Australia we cannot legally buy or use such Helmets, instead we are sold helmets certified to the AS/NZS 1698 standard that does not guarantee a Helmet meets even the minimum Australian safety standards.

VSRA PROPOSAL

The VSRA therefore proposes motorcycle crash helmets approved to more exacting standards than AS/NZS 1698, such as those certified to ECE 22.05 become at the earliest opportunity legal to distribute, sell, hire and use in Australia. It is also proposed the ACCC continue to randomly test helmets and recall any found not to meet the current mandatory minimum Australian safety standards. In this way helmets that do not meet the current Australian minimum safety standards can continue to be found and withdrawn from sale, whilst at the same time Australian riders will no longer be deprived the opportunity to wear crash helmets certified outside of Australia that provide superior protection to those certified to AS/NZS 1698.

Steve Bardsley Spokesperson - VSRA

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Replies to This Discussion

I fully support Steve and the VSRA. It is time that decent helmets can be purchased at fair prices. If ECE 22.05 certified helmets will be legal in Australia there is finally a competitive edge in the market.

It is hard to understand why a helmet from a reputable manufacturer is significantly more expensive bought in Australia with the Australian sticker than the identical helmet with ECE sticker bought in Europe or other places.

Keep testing helmets and making results public is the best protection we could expect. This will take the dodgy helmets and sales channels slowly away and make riding safer.

Shocking to read that we cannot trust TÜV Rheinland anymore ! Who else can we trust if not them.... :-)

 

Luckily I got both stickers on my helmet, so I should be free to crash...

what a farce. Just check out the Nolan information - "approved for everywhere, every advanced Western country EXCEPT Australia (because we have a state-based enforcement system.) The inconsistencies in law and regulation between NZ imports, wholesale, retail and use, and differences between the states are widespread and absurd. At one point - by law! - helmets in Queensland had to have the stickers INSIDE the helmet where they were sweated and worn off! (Is this still the case?) Given the nanny state's current obsession with safety you would think a logical and national system would be in place! Where is the sense in forcing people to wear rubbish "approved" helmets and penalising people who would use a World Class international Standard but "unapproved" lid! This has needed sorting for a long time. 

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