BETA Safety Week
You may have seen the phrase 'BETA Safety Week" floating round social media, and your email inboxes recently. The NEW inititive of 'BETA Safety Week' (Strangly enough, created by BETA) falls between 28 April-6 May 2018. Many BETA retail members are taking part in the week and will be promoting their professional fitting service to help you find the very best, and most suitable, safety garments (BETA, 2018). Some will also be running special offers and promotions, so keep your eyes peeled!
I thought, in aid of BETA Safety Week, I would write a little post on Safety Equiptment and all the little facts its good to know...
BODY PROTECTORS VS AIR JACKETS:
A key difference between an air jacket and a body protector is the protection provided. A body protector offers permanent, static protection, absorbing and spreading the forces involved. An AJ offers temporary, dynamic protection once the garment is inflated, slowing the impact. Research has shown that AJ’s are most suited to falls on flat, wider, load bearing surfaces but offer little protection from sharp or blunt smaller objects such as hooves (BETA, 2018). This is why, in Eventing, an Air Jacket must be worn with a Level 3 Body Protector, to protect the body as much as possible.
Whether you’re going training or you are just going out for a hack, you should consider wearing a body protector. Just because there isnt a rule stating you should wear one when riding at home, its certainlty not detrimental to get into that habit! Anecdotally, riders dont wear a body portector at home due to not liking the stiff feeling. Most body protectors are made from heat sensitive PVC nitrile foam, which is why they feel increasingly comfortable as they soften and mould to the wearer’s body. So try storing your protector in a warm (but not artificially hot) environment to ensure it’s nice and flexible when you put it on.
Whilst Body Protectors dont come with Shoulder Protectors as standard, they are a useful piece of kit to own. Research into falls onto the shoulder during eventing competitions revealed that wearing shoulder protection reduces the risk of breaking your collarbone by up to 80%.
Body protectors should be replaced at least every three to five years, after which the impact absorption properties of the foam may have started to decline.
Recently, AJ’s have become a regular sight at Eventing competitions, with more riders than not, wearing them at the grassroots levels. In 2016 (BE, 2016), at BE competitions, only 59% of riders who fell were wearing an AJ, however at BE80 only 39% were not wearing an AJ.
When Point Two and the TRL worked on testing the Point Two Air Jacket, there was improved protection to the spine by up to 69%. The Air Jacket also reduced the risk of rib fractures and underlying organ damage by at least 20% (Point Two, 2017).
Safety testing is conducted on all helmets in the UK to ensure that they meet safety standards. There is a range of standards across the world but for BE, the required specification is PAS015 (BE, 2017). PAS015, amongst other factors, addresses crush resistance and protection when landing on an edged surface (BETA, n.d).
You can view BETA's Guide on Helmet standards HERE
The HEADS project is working with BETA to look at helmet design, through the BETA Helmet Bounty Scheme. The scheme involves medical officers at BE events offering riders who have fallen, and are diagnosed with concussion, the option for their helmets to be part of the scheme in exchange for a voucher towards a new helmet. Riders also fill out a form about their accident (BETA, 2018a). I'm sure a few of you reading this have probably been involved with this scheme!
The team has been recording the extent and type of damage to donated hats, as well as carrying out tests on helmets that have not been involved in falls. Preliminary analysis is that 30% of concussion injuries have no damage to the helmet (neither internally nor externally). This leaves around 70% of helmets damaged after a concussive fall, where the internal polystyrene shock absorbent liner may have been damaged. This means it may not be able to provide adequate protection in the future (Champion, 2014). It's such good practice to replace your helmet after every fall and the BETA Safety Week will hopefully aid some of you in getting a new helmet slightly cheaper.
CONCUSSION - MIND YOU HEAD:
Concussion in sport is well documented, particularly in American Football and Cycling. Equestrian sport has, however, fallen short on research, despite riders presenting with head injuries more regularly than cyclists (CDC, 2007).
The FEI has always eliminated riders after a fall. BE is now following suit, eliminating riders after a fall in any phase (BE, 2018). Whilst this appears to be a positive move towards safe competition, there have been numerous complaints from riders. I wrote a blog post all about this in March, you can read it HERE. Anecdotal evidence, however, suggests that many competitors deny having concussion symptoms in order to continue riding. Perhaps it is the lack of understanding of the dangers of repeated concussion. These reports are heard in a variety of sports. In a survey of college athletes with a concussion history, 43% admitted that they have hidden their symptoms to stay in a game, and almost 1⁄4 said they would do so in the future (Geier, n.d).
Numerous studies have shown that repeated brain injury in sport can lead to chronic encephalopathy (Symptoms may include behavioral problems, mood problems, and problems with thinking. This typically does not begin until years after the injuries. It often gets worse over time and can result in dementia), so if you think you may have concussion, its best to go and visit your doctor, replace your helmet and give riding a miss until you recover (I promise it will be worth it long term).
Lots of the information in this Blog Post is from the BETA website, so make sure you have a little wander over....they also have a list of retailers involved.
Hope some of you found this interesting!