Trade Group That Oversees the Refurbishing Of Used Football Helmets Announces It Will No Longer Accept Helmets More Than 10 Years Old
The safety, or more specifically the lack thereof, of football helmets has been a source of concern for some years. One of the problems is that it is common for a football helmet to be used for many years when its condition can deteriorate such as its foam cushioning becoming too stiff or the plastic helmet becoming too brittle from aging, leaving the players more vulnerable to concussions and other head trauma. There are no laws that place a time limit on how long a helmet can be used. Football helmets more than 10 years old are worn by about 100,000 young players every fall. Although there are tests that the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) requires when helmets are refurbished, a few years ago the FBI investigated whether these tests were being properly done. But this week the National Athletic Equipment Reconditioners Association (NAERA) announced that effective September 1, 2011 NAERA members will not recondition/recertify any football helmet 10 years of age or older. For example at the end of this upcoming 2011 football season, any helmet dated 2002 or older will not be reconditioned/recertified. Schools and youth organizations often send their helmets to be reconditioned, but it is a voluntary process. According to experts, NAERAs decision to reject helmets more than 10 years old will force organizations to choose between purchasing new helmets or putting youngsters in used helmets known to be less safe. The hope is that this will discourage their use so that old helmets will become virtually extinct. The recertification process includes cleaning, sanitizing, replacement of worn parts, shell inspection and NOCSAE testing. Many helmets may need painting and faceguard, jaw pad and chin strap replacement. After the equipment is tested, warning and size labels as per helmet manufacturers recommendations are replaced. When a helmet is recertified, a NOCSAE recertification label is placed on the inside of the helmet with the current years' recertification date. NAERA is an association of 21 athletic equipment reconditioners and 4 helmet manufacturers whose mission is to increase awareness and acceptance of high quality athletic equipment reconditioning / recertification, with particular emphasis directed towards reducing the risk of injury for athletic event participants. Members are licensed by NOCSAE to recertify football, lacrosse, softball/baseball helmets, and face guards. NAERA members reconditioned/recertified over 1.7 million helmets last year. A wide range of other attempts to improve football helmet safety have been made. In January NOCSAE announced that it will pursue several new safety-related measures, including the development of a test standard that considers the complex forces that cause concussions. NOCSAE said it also would pursue a separate test standard for youth and high school helmets. The Consumer Products Safety Commission began a formal investigation into football helmet safety. Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, requested that the Federal Trade Commission investigate helmet makers, specifically the industry leaders Riddell and Schutt, for potentially false and misleading advertising regarding the safety properties of their headgear. Representatives Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, and G. K. Butterfield, Democrat of Michigan, requested thata House subcommittee hold a hearing regarding football helmet safety, citing among other matters the use of old helmets. Such a hearing could hasten the development of further safety-related measures under consideration, like warning labels on helmets that would explain their limited safety properties with respect to concussions. Besides improving the equipment, Congress has proposed a Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act, that would set minimum safety standards for concussion management in public schools across the country. The personal injury lawyers at Levine & Slavit have decades of experience handling personal injury claims. For 50 years spanning 3 generations, we have obtained results for satisfied clients. Contact the personal injury lawyers at Levine & Slavit for their help. We have offices in Manhattan and Long Island, handling cases in New York City, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and surrounding areas. To learn more, watch our videos.