How safe is your hat?

  • Plans announced for a new test on riding hats sold in the UK to assess the level of protection offered

    The Equestrian New Hat Programme plans to test and evaluate a selection of hats sold in the UK to assess the protection they offer.

    The Equestrian New Hat Programme (ENHAP) plans to carry out two-stages of testing to evaluate and compare the protection provided by a wide selection of equestrian helmets soldin UK retail outlets.

    According to the Mark Davies Injured Riders’ Fund, who initiated the study, research has shown that the severity of falls frequently cause serious or fatal injuries, but where a correct safety helmet was worn, theoutcome of the injury was greatly improved.

    All hats sold in the UK have to conform to the current safety standards, but buyers currently have no means of evaluating the degree of protection provided by a particular model of theirchoice.

    The first stage of testing will be a preliminary evaluation process. This will involve a side impact test on more than 50 hats, before the 15 best performing helmets are subjected to a full ENHAP test programme.

    Once the testing is complete and the results analysed and each hat will be given a star rating for its degree of head protection.

    Jane Davies, founder of The Mark Davies Injured Riders Fund who commissioned the project, said: “Everyone can seethat hats look different, but people have no idea how safe they are. The ENHAP ratings will help to give consumers the information they need to choose the safer option. “

    The test programme will be carried out by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and the results should be published in the early part of 2003. This will provide equestrian consumers with an independent and objective assessment of the safety performance of individual hats.

    Sheila Hardy of the BHS Safety department welcomed the new testing procedures.

    “The BHS is very supportive of any initiative that enhances rider safety – the information which will arise from this research will enable riders to make a more educated decision as to which hat is most suitable for their particular purpose.”

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