USA Hockey has announced a newly implemented rule requiring all players under the age of 18 to wear protective neck guards.

The rule also applies to 19-year-olds playing at the junior level and will go into effect on August 1 to accommodate delays in the production and shipping of the equipment.

“I know throughout our organization, the overwhelming opinion was that the time is appropriate to modify our rules related to neck laceration protection,” USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher told the Associated Press (AP). “We’re also encouraged that the hockey industry is committed to continuing to work to improve the cut-resistant products that protect players to help influence the safest possible landscape for the game.”

USA Hockey joins the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) in making neck guards mandatory for its players. The IIHF currently requires all players participating in its tournaments to wear them. USA Hockey also suggests players wear other protective gear that is cut-resistant.

The announcement comes about four months after former NHL player Adam Johnson died following an on-ice incident in an Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) game in England, during which an opponent’s skate cut his neck, and about two years after a high school player in Connecticut was killed in the same manner.

However, Dr. Mike Stuart,  a USA Hockey safety and protective equipment committee member, told the AP he had been trying to make the change last year.

“For a long time, I’ve been advocating and trying to work with companies on effective cut-resistant undergarments that would protect these vulnerable anatomic areas,” Stuart told the AP. “We have to use this as an opportunity not only to require or mandate, but to test, to certify and come up with these devices that are not only effective but are comfortable and don’t restrict that range of motion and aren’t prohibitively expensive.”

The NHL currently has no requirements for players to wear neck guards despite some graphic injuries involving skate blades, and it does not appear that will be changing any time soon.