Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
Consumer-funded, volunteer staff

Helmets Children Promotion Stats Laws Search

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Bicycle Helmet Standard Interpretation:
Internal Projections

Summary: This letter to the Protective Headgear Manufacturers Association modifies the CPSC bicycle helmet standard's provisions on internal projections.


James A. DeMarco
Senior Compliance Officer
Recalls & Compliance
Office of Compliance

Tel: 301/504 0608 x 1353
Fax: 301/504-0359
Email: jdemarco@cpsc.gov

JAN 2, 1999

Chris M. Cox, President
Protective Headgear Manufacturers Association
1333-30th Street
San Diego, CA 92154

Dear Mr. Cox:

This is in response to your letter of August 1998 requesting guidance in interpreting the CPSC Safety Standard for Bicycle Helmets (16 CFR Part 1203) regarding the provision on internal helmet fixtures (§ 1203.5). The final sentence of § 1203.5 states, "There shall be no fixture on the helmet's inner surface projecting more than 2 mm into the helmet interior." Your letter states that a strict reading of the regulation would prevent a manufacturer from using comfort pads more than 2 mm thick and would prevent the use of many retention systems that have proven very effective.

The Office of Compliance, Recalls and Compliance Division, provides the following guidance for determining the compliance of interior helmet fixtures under § 1203.5.

The intent of this sentence is to prohibit fixtures inside the helmet that are potentially injurious in the event of an accident involving head impact. This generally includes hard fixtures that extend more than 2 mm in a rigid manner into the helmet's interior.

"Soft" fixtures, such as foam fit-pads or comfort-pads, do not fit this description and will not be considered to be non-complying internal fixtures.

In addition, plastic or woven material components not more than 2 mm thick that are flexible parts of the retention system and are designed to follow the contours of the head will not be considered to be non-complying internal fixtures. Examples of this are the flexible plastic straps that make up "occipital support" retention systems that improve the stability of the helmet on the wearer's head.

This interpretation is based on the information currently available to the staff. If additional facts come to our attention. the interpretation could change.


James A. DeMarco

We also have the original letter in .pdf format for printing it out.

BHSI comment:

This letter modifies significantly the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. We are pleased that it was issued, indicating that the Commission retains some flexibility to improve its standard where needed. But the letter has not been published anywhere but here. CPSC did not issue a press release, or to our knowledge take any step to make the letter generally available to anyone but PHMA and its members. We had to request our copy after we found out it had been issued. That means that manufacturers and test labs that are not in the PHMA circle had no notice. If this mechanism had been used in a European country we would have snickered and said that keeping it closely held was just a means of discouraging foreign manufacturers. We do not believe that that was CPSC's intent, since they just do not operate that way. But clearly CPSC needs to work on its mechanism for issuing interpretations for this standard.

How2Buy Children Promotions Statistics Laws
About New Standards Teachers Search

This page was revised on: October 30, 2020. BHSI logo