TO IMPROVE SAFETY BY 40-50% FOR ALL JOCKEYS AND TRACKWORK RIDERS, A NEW HELMET COMPLIANT WITH THE STRONGEST HELMET STANDARD IN THE WORLD ARB HS 2012 SHOULD BE WORN

Jockeys’ concerns about potential neck injuries with
the new helmets are addressed by Dr Andrew McIntosh.

ARB HS 2012 COMPLIANT HELMETS RESULT IN ONE OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENTS IN JOCKEY SAFETY IN RECENT TIMES

Racing Australia’s responsibilities include maximising safety of Thoroughbred Racing industry’s participants. This led to the development of a new standard ARB HS 2012 in 2012 and the recent developement release of the new Aussie Track and New Derby ARB HS 2012 compliant helmets.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


WHY IS A NEW STANDARD NECESSARY?

Racing NSW and Racing Australia commisioned research at the university of NSW into improving the safety and performance of helmets between 2007 and 2011. The research was led by Dr Andrew McIntosh who has over 20 years of academic, research and professional experience in biomechanics and ergonomics.

Dr McIntosh found that current helmet standards and helmets did not fully meet the specialist needs of the racing industry, where speeds are high. head impacts potentially severe, and there is a posibility of impacts from following horses. The research showed that changes to the standard could be made that would lead to helmets better capable of meeting the needs of jockeys and reducing the incidence of head injury. 

HOW DO HELMETS GET CERTIFIED TO ARB HS 2012?

To get a helmet Certified to ARB HS 2012, a helmet must first pass one of the following equestrian standards:

1. AS/NZS 3838
2. ASTM F1163
3. EN STANDARD – currently VG1

Once a helmet has passed one of these stepping stone standards, the helmet is then subjected to the more rigorous set of tests in ARB HS 2102, in which the impact force is double or more that of the above standards. This ensures that the helmets Certified to ARB HS 2012 have to perform well over a range of impact levels, rather than just at the moderate impact levels of the current (above) standards.

These tests are carried out at independent Testing Laboratories, and the manufacturer and helmets are subject to on-going audits and batch testing.

WHY IS RACING AUSTRALIA ENDORSING THE NEW DERBY HELMET AND AUSSIE TRACK ARB HS 2012 COMPLANT HELMETS?

Aussie Rider Safety Pty Limited is the only supplier that’s been able to meet the ARB HS 2012 standard to date.

HOW MANY CERTIFIED MODELS ARE THERE?

Two models have been certified so far, they are:

THE NEW DERBY –  ARB HS 2012 Certified

AUSSIE TRACK – ARB HS 2012 Certified

Whilst the NEW DERBY model is designed for jockeys and the AUSSIE TRACK is designed for track riders, as both are fully Certified to ARB HS 2012, either model is able to be worn during racing and / or track work riding.

WHY WILL THIS HELMET BE ANY BETTER THAN EXISTING HELMETS?

Extensive testing strongly suggests that ARB HS 2012 certified helmets can reduce jockeys’ chances of a moderate to severe brain injury by around 40-50%. Further, as the impact range of testing involved in ARB HS 2012 is much broader than current standards, the ARB HS 2012 certified helmets work much more effectively over a wider range of impacts than existing helmets. Recent testing shows the ARB HS 2012 certified helmets work better than existing helmets in low severity impacts. This means that ARB HS 2012 certified helmets absorb more impact energy at low, moderate and extremely high impacts, whereas current helmets tend to work best in the moderate impact levels.

WHY ARE THE ARB HS 2012 CERTIFIED HELMETS A BIT BIGGER AND WILL THAT MAKE FALLS WORSE?

For helmets to absorb more impact energy and reduce the likelihood of moderate to severe brain injury by almost half, there must be more padding (impact absorbing material) between the riders’ head and the object being hit. This material cushions and protects the skull and brain during a head impact.

The New Derby does weigh around 100 grams more than current helmets (depending on the model). However when on a head which weighs around 5kg this means the weight is increased from say 5.5 kg (5.0 + 0.5 for helmet) to 5.60kg. This represents only around a 2% increase in impact energy as a result of the added mass. The testing shows that despite this 2% increase in energy due to the slightly heavier helmet there is a very large decrease, around 50%. in the likelihood of moderate to severe brain injury at both moderate and severe impact levels.
The jockeys will also have the option of wearing the Aussie Track which will weigh less than existing helmets by 50-100 grams.

WHAT ABOUT NECK INJURIES?

Like bike helmets, snow helmets etc, equestrian helmets are designed to protect the brain and the head not the neck.
The helmet is a bit bigger, but because the impact absorbing inner EPS in the ARB HS 2012 compliant helmets is much less dense or hard, the head stops more slowly with the effect that the impact on the neck is likely to be less force, not more. For example many of the helmets currently worn use very dense EPS and if you dig a thumb into the EPS, you will find it very difficult to make an indent with a thumb. This means that the head has to stop more quickly to do its job. When the same is done on ARB HS 2012 compliant helmets you can make a clear impression with the thumb. So the jockey’s head is going to stop more slowly in the ARB HS 2012 compliant helmets at low, moderate and severe impact levels, with slower deceleration. It is likely that the ARB HS 2012 compliant helmets will have a positive rather than a negative effect on the neck.

WHAT IS A GOOD FIT?

A well fitted helmet should sit 1-2cms above the eyebrows, and just above the ears at the side. When adjusted for size properly, a good fit is when the helmet should move up and down with the skin of the forehead (do this in front of a mirror).

To achieve best fit, try on the helmet and adjust the rear head cradle, where supplied, (only available with the New Derby) so that it fits snugly under the bony part at the back of the head (called the occipital bone). If there is still movement in the helmet, there is extra padding supplied with both models and in some cases extra adhesive attachers.

WILL THE CURRENT CAPS FIT THESE HELMETS?

If the rider’s existing helmet is a small or medium size helmet, up to a size 56cm, it is likely that the current caps will fit on these ARB HS 2012 helmets.

All the major cap makers already have patterns to fit the new helmets, so getting a new cap made should be reasonably easy to do.

Each helmet is supplied with two pieces of adhesive padding.
These are included for the front and/or rear of the new helmet to keep the caps in place.

ABOUT THE STANDARD

In 2012 a new ARB HS 2012 standard was published by Racing Australia. That new standard built on existing helmet regulations and supported research undertaken by Dr. Andrew McIntosh and then at the University of NSW from 2007 to 2011.

Dr. McIntosh has over 20 years of academic, research and professional experience in biomechanics and ergonomics. The themes of the majority of his work are safety and injury prevention.

In the drafting of the new standard, consideration was given to Racing Australia’s injury risk management objectives and the capacity of helmets to fulfil a wide range of objectives.

As a result, the new standard extends the performance of helmets so that they offer greater protection to the riders’ head in more severe impacts than helmets previously mandated for horse racing activities. 

Since 2012, Racing Australia has worked with helmet suppliers to identify and assist companies willing to meet the challenge of making the world’s best jockey helmet.

Allen McMillan of Aussie Rider Safety Pty Limited has produced two helmets – Aussie Track and New Derby – which are designed for trackwork and race riding, respectively.

Throughout 2014 and 2015, jockeys around Australia were invited to provide feedback on advanced production prototypes of the helmets. The response was constructive. Based on the feedback, improvements were made and addressed by Allen McMillan in the final helmet design.

For helmets to absorb more impact energy and reduce the likelihood 

of moderate to severe brain injury by almost half, there must be more padding (impact absorbing material) between the riders’ head and the object being hit. This material cushions and protects the skull and brain during a head impact.


ABOUT THE SAFETY BENEFITS


The testing shows that despite the very small increase in energy (less than 2%) as a result of the slightly heavier New Derby helmet, there are substantial reductions in the likelihood of moderate to severe brain injury and skull fracture in both moderate and severe impacts. Based on laboratory tests, the New Derby helmet may decrease the likelihood of moderate to severe brain injuries and skull fractures by up to 50% compared to current helmets.

Jockeys will also have the option of wearing the Aussie Track which weighs less than existing helmets by an average of 50-100 grams.

The laboratory results suggest that for every two to three jockeys wearing an ARB HS 2012 certified helmet, one skull fracture or severe head injury will be prevented in falls similar to the helmet test conditions compared to current helmets.

All tests conducted indicate that these helmets would reduce head trauma.


ABOUT THE HELMETS

Following extensive scientific testing the Aussie Track and New Derby ARB HS 2012 certified helmets are now available. Both provide unparalleled safety improvements.

Aussie Rider Safety Pty Limited is the only supplier at this stage that has been able to meet the required standard of ARB HS 2012.