The general norm for the replacing helmets is every five years. But have you ever wondered why that is and if it is still relevant or if it’s become a sort of old wives tale?
Right off the bat, it is not an old wives tale. In fact, I regret even putting that thought possibility in your mind because helmets are so important to your safety that it becomes imperative that you own one that will do a good job of it’s only job, protecting your head. Every five years is not a rule written in stone, so to speak. Companies make this claim because helmets are often used on a semi-regular to frequent basis and get worn down after a while of constant use. Sweat begins to break down the glue, padding begins to shift and flatten, that mild, musty, hard days work, dried sweat smell begins to orbit your head on a less than preferred permanent basis. So really, it’s best to think of the five-year rule as an average. Depending on how often you use your helmet, combined with how rigorously your routine will be on the helmet, five years can become six years or on the other side of the spectrum, it could be as little time as two years.
You will also need to retire your helmet if you’ve used it. It may sound silly, or even obvious, but it should be said either way. Helmets are just like any other gear; they need to be retired after they have been, for lack of a better term, “put to the test.”
Bikers used to claim that if your helmet falls off your parked bike, you should immediately retire that helmet. “As goes your helmet, so goes your head.”Arguably, most all of the fall protection gear we put on or keep on our person is a sort of preventative measure. When the gear is really used, it will have hopefully done its job and in doing so, it becomes useless in keeping you or your crew safe because of the damage sustained during the trauma.
There are some old superstitions dealing with helmets also, if you’re into that kind of thing. Bikers used to claim that if your helmet falls off your parked bike, you should immediately retire that helmet. “As goes your helmet, so goes your head.”
Perhaps because of the size, helmets can seem like one of the lesser important pieces of fall protection gear, not as large and obvious as, say a harness. But they are really one of the most important and should be treated as such. Regardless of which school of thought your sentiments lie in, whether you are a person who believes in replacing a helmet after a few years, or a person that replaces a helmet anytime it falls, the important thing is that you replace the helmet when it is appropriate.