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There was a lot of excitement this year at the Safety Helmet Manufacturer’s Association’s (SMASH) annual convention in Wewaki Springs, Ohio. All of the big dogs of the helmet world were there—football, baseball, la crosse, hockey and, of course, bicycling. The smaller players were there too—bobsledding, luge, skiing, and skate boarding. There were slick new designs, hot new colors and even a few advances in head trauma reduction.
The whole helmet industry was agog on the news that the government watchdogs of consumer safety was about to mandate helmets for a host of pursuits previously considered safe. Thanks to research by the Safety Helmet Research Council, an industry funded lobbying group. As a result of their findings and years of political pressure, helmets will soon be required for such tasks as driving, house cleaning, shopping and lawn mowing. The Helmet Council’s research shows that these activities are responsible for tens of thousands of head injuries each year. And, just as with contact sports, these activities will each require a separate helmet design. Efforts are underway to make the wearing of these helmets mandatory. Laws to this effect have already been introduced in 16 state legislatures.
Under consideration are helmets for the elderly, gamblers, and ball room dancers. Industry spokesperson, Sean McMillan, warned that head protection was not just a good idea but a basic human responsibility. He brought the crowd to its feet with visions of “a world where no one need ever fear head injury from any cause whatsoever. A world where our children are protected and concussion is an obsolete medical term.”
In an adjoining room industry executives were discussing new areas where helmets might save millions from injury. Helmets were proposed for such competitive activities as chess, debating and musical theater, both for audience and participants. “The future looks bullish for the helmet industry,” said one CEO. “If a helmet can save even one person from a severe head injury then I say put on your helmet and have fun.”
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