New York City is looking to replace the state-of-the-art “PELINER” welding helmet with something a little more practical, a new study shows.
The study by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, conducted by the Manhattan Institute and the New York University School of Medicine, found that the helmet, which is a plastic-and-metal combination, is safer than the standard steel-and–glass helmet.
“While many safety improvements could be made, we have to ask ourselves: Are there enough improvements to make this a useful device?” said David A. Loy, the study’s author.
“Is it the most safe helmet that we can have in our country?
Is it the safest helmet for children?
What about for drivers?”
The helmet was designed by Dr. J. Howard Gittleson, a pediatrician who had previously studied the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning in children.
He also designed the metal helmet, said John F. DeCamp, a professor of environmental health at the New School for Social Research.
“We wanted to understand how people would wear the helmet,” said Dr. Decamp, who was not involved in the study.
“How people would get in and out of a car?
How people would react to the helmet when they have asthma, and for what conditions?”
The New York State Emergency Medical Services Department has spent nearly $1 billion since 2001 to make the helmet.
Its safety record has been called into question since at least 2009, when the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found it had been “systematically” failing to prevent injuries and deaths, including more than 1,000 cases of serious brain injury.
Last year, the department announced a major revision to the safety guidelines it had issued for the helmet and asked the New Yorkers for their input.
“The department wanted to make sure that it would be a good helmet that would last for a long time,” Dr. Fuchs said.
“We thought we’d make it so that we didn’t need to replace it every year.”
The DOT is still considering the safety of the helmet in the city.
“While we do not know if the helmet would be safe if used in a public place, we do know that the safety standard was exceeded for children,” the DOT said in a statement.
“It is our hope that we will be able to continue to refine and improve the helmet design over time,” DOT spokesman Brian Krueger said in an email.
The DOT plans to submit the new helmet to the public for comment this summer.
Dr. Gittlsons helmet was created for children as young as three.
It features a mesh visor that protects the eyes from carbon monoxides and other contaminants.
The DOT says it is working with the manufacturer to create a helmet that meets the current safety standards, but is expected to spend about $1 million to produce it.