Gecko Head Gear Take Helmet Safety Seriously

That’s why our marine safety helmets meet BSI PAS 028:2002

We are the original helmet manufacturer to produce BSI PAS 028:2002 accredited helmets, the highest standard in the world for marine safety helmets. PAS 028:2002 is a publicly available specification designed to protect the wearer from collisions in motor-powered crafts such as ribs, powerboats and jet skis.

Our open facefull face and cut away helmets all meet this specification. There currently isn’t a recognised safety standard for surf helmets and therefore the Gecko surf lid is not certified by BSI.

The first BSI helmet standard was born in 1953 to certify motorcycle helmets and just two years later the Government introduced the compulsory application of this BSI Kitemark for all such helmets. Initially this was the only recognised British standard for safety helmets,  but as new variables were identified for different applications it became clear that a range of helmet standards governing different areas of the commercial sector was necessary.

One of the most recent standards to be developed was PAS 028:2002, the standard for marine safety helmets that the RNLI were consulted on alongside the Metropolitan Police Service, the Ministry of Defence Police and marine safety helmet manufacturer Gecko Head Gear. This standard adopted relevant tests from a range of existing helmet standards, combining them to create performance requirements that are appropriate for people operating fast watercraft such as RIBs and jet skis. Also included in this standard were some new mandatory requirements that are specific to the marine environment, such as the use of materials that do not corrode in salt water and the requirement for the helmet to be positively buoyant.

PAS stands for Publicly Available Specification, which in practise means a standardisation document that closely resembles a formal standard in structure and format,  but which has a different development model; a PAS is always developed in response to a commission by an external sponsor to satisfy an immediate business need.

In the case of PAS 028:2002 the external sponsors (consultees) were organisations who had collaboratively identified a need for a marine specific helmet standard that would meet the very specific requirements of their organisation; a motorcycle helmet level of protection in a marine appropriate product.

Besides the consultees of PAS 028:2002, numerous organisations worldwide now use PAS 028:2002 certified helmets including the British Navy, the Royal Air Force, Gibraltar Police, the German Navy, the German Coastguard, Hong Kong Police and Fire Services, the Canadian Coastguard, the French Coastguard,  and the Australian Navy to name a few.

In fact, in 2014 a government-backed ruling was passed in Germany that allowed their coastguard and rescue organisations to make repeat purchases of their PAS 028:2002 certified head gear without putting out a traditional tender or repeating the testing scenarios; all because it was recognised that this was the only standard that met their demanding safety and environmental regulations and Gecko Head Gear the only manufacturer providing PAS 028:2002 certifiable helmets.

For more on this story read ‘A Client Case Study’ in the Gecko Head Gear blog.

The two key factors when it comes to buying a marine safety helmet are;

Choosing an appropriately certified helmet: choosing a helmet that is not certified for marine use may offer appropriate protection for your head but has potential to underperform in other areas. Helmets that are designed to be used on the road, such as motorcycle helmets, will become very heavy from water absorption when used in a marine environment and the RNLI who once used motorcycle helmets for rescue situations, discovered that their weight and negative buoyancy actually increased the risk of neck injury and drowning in a man overboard situation. Similarly, using a kayaking helmet (that has been designed to be used in fresh water) in salt water can cause corrosion of the metal components on the helmet, which poses a risk to its long-term integrity. It is a recommended to obtain a copy of the test certificate from the helmet manufacturer prior to purchase to ensure that your helmet does meet all the right credentials.

Choosing a helmet that fits: not only will a correctly fitted helmet offer the maximum protection in the event of a collision but it will be more comfortable to wear! Pay attention to the liner and retention system and look for a fully adjustable custom-fit helmet interior to achieve maximum safety and comfort.

By following these golden rules you’ll end up with a fit for purpose helmet that is comfortable to wear and stays on your head when you most need it to.

Helmet safety standards were not developed in sync with one another and while similar testing methods have been adopted between standards the performance requirements vary and are often given using different units of measurement, making them hard to compare! We’ve done some analysis on the impact absorption safety tests to provide a quick overview of the different impact energies that helmets are exposed to during testing, for each of the main BSI helmet standards; click here to see the comparison graph.

N.B. For the purposes of comparison the data in the graphs above has been converted, rounded and assumptions have been made about helmet weight. For the full information relating to each standard please obtain the official standard paperwork from BSI.

The performance requirement for these tests is that less than 10kN (+/- 5kN) of force is transferred to the head form inside the helmet when the external energy is applied. It is clear from this data that helmets that are designed to be worn by vehicle users or by people who risk falling from height, have the highest shock absorption qualities. PAS 028:200 is actually the most stringently tested helmet in the shock absorption test, demonstrating that they are indeed fit for purpose for users of fast watercraft and there really is no better certification credential to look for in a marine safety helmet.

You’ve only got one head, so why settle for anything less?