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Testing and Certification of Hockey Protective Equipment

Testing and Certification of Hockey Protective Equipment

Hockey is a fast-moving sport that requires players to wear protective equipment. The National Hockey League (NHL) has specific rules regarding helmets and other pieces of equipment, but there are no mandatory standards for companies to meet when creating their products. 

There is also no governing body that certifies and tests protective hockey equipment. Although the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has created certification standards for hockey equipment, they are not mandatory. 

This blog will explore how different companies create their products, what methods are used in testing them, and why CE certification is important to Europeans but not North Americans.

There is no single governing body that certifies and tests protective equipment.

ASTM International is a voluntary organization that sets standards for the safety testing of hockey equipment but does not certify products. This means that the ASTM standards are not regulations, only guidelines manufacturers can follow.

ASTM International is not a government agency and has no regulatory authority over the safety or performance of hockey helmets or other protective clothing and gear. 

The organization publishes standards (known as “test methods”) that companies may choose to follow if they want their products to be tested by ASTM’s accredited laboratories for compliance with those standards before being marketed in North America, Europe, and other regions around the world where these documents apply.

Companies can test their products independently without submitting the results to any third party.

Manufacturing companies are free to test their products independently without being required to submit the results to any third party. 

Suppose a company wishes to have its equipment certified by an accredited testing laboratory. In that case, it can follow the ASTM F1045 standard, under which all protective gear must be tested for strength, durability, flexibility, and fit before being sold.

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Companies may choose to follow set standards, such as ASTM F1045, but there is no requirement for them to do so.

For example, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) develops various standards for products like kids’ toys or safety helmets. However, these are voluntary standards and not mandatory in North America; they only apply in Europe if you want your product tested using it.

The ASTM did create this standard (F1045), which has been adopted by both the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and Hockey Canada as their mandatory helmet testing standard—it’s just not widely used in North America because it doesn’t have any legal force behind it here. 

The IIHF requires players who participate in international tournaments or league games where there are spectators must wear helmets that meet F1045 standards at all times when on the ice surface (not just during play).

Different testing standards typically focus on different aspects of protection.

ASTM F1492 is a standard for hockey helmets. The test procedures include:

  • Five impacts at each of six locations on the helmet, with an impact velocity of 9.1 m/s (20 ft/s) using a 2 kg (4 lb) steel ball falling freely through space to strike the helmet
  • One impact at each side and two have implications on top of the helmet with a free-falling flat face hammer (6 mm diameter), striking with a force of 500 N to simulate incidental contact with another player’s stick or skate blade during play, plus one additional blow on top of any location where cracks have appeared in Stage 1 tests

Each company can determine which elements of a testing standard it wishes to follow.

Each company can determine which elements of a testing standard it wishes to follow. A popular ASTM standard is F1045, developed in 1990 and updated in 2008. It outlines the testing requirements for protective hockey equipment, including helmets and face shields. 

Other standards include F1952 (for headgear), F2032 (for body protectors), and even F2459 (which governs the performance characteristics of ice hockey pads). Companies can choose these standards or develop their own criteria based on what they feel best serves their products’ needs.

The following is an example of a hockey helmet testing method.

The helmet is placed on a head form and dropped from a height of 1.5 meters. The impact velocity is approximately 5 meters per second, related to the center of gravity of the head form, as well as any other parts of the head it may be touching during impact. The helmet should also pass all tests for shock absorption, impact management, and penetration resistance.

Presently, National Technical Systems ( is a company that offers testing of hockey gear.

CE certification is used in Europe, not North America.

CE certification is a voluntary program, not required by law. The CE mark on protective hockey equipment means it complies with all relevant European Union (EU) legal requirements for safety and health when used under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions. Different standards apply in the United States: American manufacturers must follow specific rules set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to sell their products there.

Hockey Canada uses standards developed by Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC), which are similar to those used in Europe but differ substantially in others. For example:

  • HECC’s standard is CAN/CSA Z460-09; it was last updated in 2009.
  • CE certification consists of three elements: marking, test results, and declaration of conformity.

No helmet has been approved by the National Hockey League (NHL) or the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).

While the NHL and IIHF may have their own safety standards, they do not test or certify any protective equipment. The ASTM standards are voluntary, but many manufacturers still comply with them because they want to sell their products in North America. These voluntary standards are optional and, therefore cannot be enforced by the organizations that created them.

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The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has created certification standards for hockey equipment, but they are not mandatory.

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has created certification standards for hockey equipment, but they are not mandatory. These standards include:

  • ASTM F1492 – Hockey Helmet
  • ASTM F1740 – Neck Guard
  • ASTM F2032 – Shoulder Pads
  • ASTM F2412 – Chest & Arm Protector
  • ASTM F2413 – Groin Protector (elbow length)

But to which part of the body does a player need protection?


Shoulders are the most common area to be injured in hockey. Therefore, shoulder protection should be worn by all players and is required by USA Hockey. Shoulder pads should be tested for impact absorption, designed to reduce the risk of injury. 

For example, shoulder pads must pass a test determining whether they provide enough coverage and protection when struck by a puck traveling 90 miles per hour.

Elbows and Forearms

Elbows and forearms are one of the most commonly injured areas in hockey. They are vulnerable to falls, contact with other players, sticks, and pucks, and collisions with boards or ice.

Because of this, it is important for protective equipment on elbows and forearms to be able to:

  • protect from injury from falls or contact;
  • allow freedom of movement;
  • be comfortable.

Chest protector

Chest protectors are designed to protect the chest, ribs, and upper abdomen. They are heavy-duty foam or hard plastic and should fit snugly yet comfortably.

A chest protector should be worn in all games and practices.

Helmets and facemasks

Helmets and facemasks are tested for:
  • Impact absorption
  • Durability of materials and design, including field of vision and retention systems. These items must be able to withstand multiple impacts with a laboratory head form to pass the test.
  • Fit (the helmet must fit snugly enough not easily to come off during play).
Read the full list of hockey protective equipment here.

The goal with protective equipment is for the player to get up quickly after a fall or contact without injury.

The focus of protection is protecting against impact and penetration injuries and preventing burns from hot surfaces.

The types of injuries that can occur in hockey include:

  • cuts from skate blades
  • bruises from collisions with other players or rink boards
  • strains and sprains from falls on ice


Testing methods are designed to ensure that the equipment meets specific safety standards, but they are not mandatory. Each company can choose which parts of the standard they will follow when designing new products. 

For example, some companies may follow ASTM F 1045 while others might use another standard, such as CE certification, which is used in Europe (but not North America). Some players may prefer one type over another depending on what features best suit their needs and preferences.

It’s important for hockey players to understand what types of testing exist so they can make informed choices about protective gear purchases.