Rotational Loads on the human head created by Protective Helmets

By Stephan Odenwald

Protective Helmets are widely used in a multitude of industrial environments. Current developments aim to build lightweight helmets in order to prevent physical fatigue. But weight is only half the story.

We discovered the importance of the rotational moment of inertia, that comes into play, when the worker bows his head up and down or left to right. This rotational moment is not only determined by the absolute weight but also by its distribution. More distance of the weight to the center of rotation means hight rotational moment of inertia means higher loads on neck and body muscles.

For evaluating the mechanical loads on the Works body created by different kinds of helmets and attached protective visor we developed a mechanical simulation test setup for torque measurement. Six different Combinations of helmet and visor were examined in order to evaluate the acting momentum in cervical and lumbar spine depending on inclination of head and trunk and the position of the visor (in-use-, rest- and park-position). Additionally to the resulting torque the newly developed test enabled us to explore the moments of inertia of the different helmet-visor-designs. The mechanical simulation of a worker's body in different postures is the basis for future improvements of saver and more comfortable protective helmets. And comfort make it more likely, that workers wear the helmets as they should ...

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