The key to a successful safety program is to protect employees from head injuries. The easiest and most important way is by wearing safety hard hats.
These protect workers from the shock of a blow to the head, and penetration. The shell should be 1 to 1 ¼” away from the head to cushion impact, and the hardhat should have instructions for proper adjustment and replacement of suspension and headband. Proper fit is of the utmost importance.
Most hard hats have slots to accommodate safety glasses, face shields, mounted lights, and/or earmuffs.
Three industrial classes of hardhats are:
- Class A – Impact and penetration resistant and limited voltage protection – up to 2,200 volts.
- Class B – Highest level of high-voltage shock and burn protection – up to 20,000 volts. These protect from impact and penetration hazards such as falling/flying objects.
- Class C – Lightweight comfort and important protection but not electrical hazard protected.
There are some important facts one should know about their hard hats:
- Hard hats won’t last forever.
- Hard hats should be replaced after no more than 5 years of use.
- The suspension of a hard hat should be replaced after no more than 12 months of use.
- Hard hats must meet ANSI Z89.1-2003 requirements.
- Hard hat suspensions should not be interchanged with other manufacturers’ suspensions.
- The service life of a hard hat starts when it is placed in use, not when it is manufactured. This date should be placed inside the helmet.
Personal protective equipment such as hard hats, should be maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition. It can only be effective if used properly and the user understands its care, maintenance, and limitations, according to OSHA 29 CFR 1910.132.
There was a time when hard hats were pretty “Plain Jane”, but no longer. Workers can choose from NCAA/TEAM/NASCAR, World War II themes, Patriotic, Glow-In-The-Dark, customized ones with logos, and even Cowboy styles! Different types of hard hats allow persons to reflect their personalities, as well as be safety compliant.