Ice hockey players, goalkeepers and referees risk head and face injuries every time they step onto the ice. ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is helping to reduce the risk by an International Standard for evaluating the performance of head and face protectors used in ice hockey.

ISO 10256:2003

ISO 10256:2003, Head and face protection for use in ice hockey, is expected to reduce the frequency and severity of injuries to the head and face without comprising the form or appeal of the game.

The new standard, which has received support from the International Ice Hockey Federation, specifies performance requirements and test methods for helmet and face protectors. It is intended help manufacturers design equipment that would be capable of protecting players, goalkeepers and referees by distributing and dampening the force of impact and preventing the penetration of objects.

"The benefits of the new standard will be two fold," says Kevin MacKenzie, Secretary of the subcommittee that developed the new standard. "First, the manufacturers and users will no longer have to deal with several different standards, all of which sought to do the same thing. Second, this standard, developed by an international panel of experts, 'sets the bar' since it is based on new investigations, ideas and theories for further improving head and face protection for ice hockey."

According to the CSA (Canadian Standards Association), sports of all kinds carry a risk of serious eye injury or blindness, but with proper protection, virtually all sports eye injuries are preventable. For example, in the 1974-1975 season - before minor ice hockey players were required to wear facemasks - there were 258 eye injuries, including 43 blinded eyes, whereas in the 2001-2002 season, only 4 eye injuries, including 2 blinded eyes were reported.

ISO 10256 provides performance characteristics for the construction, shock absorption, puck-impact resistance, penetration, retention-system properties, field of vision, marking and information of head and face protectors.

ISO 10256:2003, which replaces ISO 10256:1996 and ISO 10257:1996 and the European standard EN 967:1997, Head protectors for ice hockey players, represents ice hockey's best practice for head and face protectors.

The new standard is aimed for use by manufacturers, conformity assessment agencies, users and ice hockey associations - both national and international.