Cooler headgear means fewer accidents

Resulting from research by RMIT University’s Dr Sinnappoo Kanesalingam, this major health and safety innovation will benefit people who live and work in northern Australia and tropical countries, reducing heat stress and making headgear more comfortable to wear.

Dr Kanesalingam found that by using innovative textiles to line motorcycle helmets, such as Polymeric Water Absorbent Textile (PWAT) materials and Phase Change Materials (PCM), the temperature inside the helmet can be lowered.

“The PWAT material provides a drop in temperature of 8 to 9 degrees Celsius within the helmet, while PCM gives temperature drops of 3 to 4 degrees Celsius,” he said.

A low weight, non-toxic, environmentally friendly textile helmet liner consisting of replaceable inserts, made of either PWAT or PCM, can be incorporated within the helmet without modifying existing helmet designs.

“The liner can also be used in new helmets and can be adapted to use in other areas such as construction sites, where helmets are mandatory,” he said

A large number of motorcycle accidents occur in tropical countries, where the motorcycle is an affordable mode of quick transport.

In most of these accidents head injuries are the most prevalent, because either motorcycle helmets aren’t worn or only reluctantly to comply with traffic laws.

“In tropical countries, helmets are often perceived as uncomfortable and restrictive to use, so finding a solution to this problem to minimise head injuries in accidents was important,” Dr Kanesalingam said.

Reducing heat stress and wearer discomfort for helmet wearers in the tropics will hopefully help motorcycle riders to be more careful, concentrate on the road more and avoid accidents. Benefits will also flow on to construction workers who wear hardhats in hot countries like Australia.

“I hope my findings persuade motorcycle riders to wear the cooler helmets, which will ultimately result in fewer accidents, hospitalisations and trauma and will reduce the cost to society of motorcycle accidents,” Dr Kanesalingam said.

For interviews or comment: Dr Sinnappoo Kanesalingam, 0407 181 420.

For general media enquiries: RMIT University Communications, Deborah Sippitts, (03) 9925 3116 or 0429 588 869.