Questions & Answers About Helmet Add-ons

Once a helmet has been altered or changed, it is no longer in the configuration in which it was originally certified by the Safety Equipment Institute. It is no longer known how the altered helmet will perform because it has not been rigorously tested in its altered (noncertified) configuration. In addition, this noncertified configuration does not carry the benefits of the quality assurance and quality control mandates of NOCSAE’s standards.

How might add-on products impact helmets certified to the NOCSAE standard?

Helmets should not be altered with add-on accessories because it can change their performance. The helmet’s original components were tested, as a single unit (an intact configuration), for compliance with the NOCSAE standards. Altering these components may result in a helmet that does not perform as designed, and this could increase the risk of injury. Helmets are certified by the Safety Equipment Institute in the configuration in which they will be sold. Manufacturers can declare their products’ certification to the NOCSAE standard void if its product is altered. Individual helmet models are certified by SEI in the condition and configuration in which they were certified, and any alteration, modification, or change could affect the model’s performance on the NOCSAE certification test.

What do quality assurance and quality control have to do with helmet certification?

A vital part of the certification process is a mandate in the NOCSAE standard that every manufacturer must create and utilize a demanding Quality Control and Quality Assurance program for every helmet model that will be certified. These QA-QC programs are approved, monitored, and audited annually by SEI as part of the certification process. By evaluating data collected from every step of the manufacturing process, including the final product, SEI, the manufacturer, and the athlete wearing the helmet are assured that every model certified will perform as designed.

According to NOCSAE standard ND001:

Firms that manufacture certified products shall conduct a testing program and shall include ongoing QC/QA protocols to effectively control the quality and performance of all products that bear the NOCSAE [mark with its] compliance language. The QC/QA protocols shall include testing programs that will provide documentary evidence that the certified products produced, and released for shipment to their respective markets, are in compliance….”