One time I was required to wear a hardhat when a group of our hospital employees was taking a tour of the new facility that was being built. We all felt a little silly, but after I started working for Texas America Safety Company, I realized the importance of the personal protective equipment. (And that something could have been dropped from up above us while we were taking that tour.)
Hardhats are the most important type of head protection. A friend once told me that while he worked in the West Texas oilfields for many years, he never had anything fall on his head; however, that hardhat had kept him from bumping his head many times while maneuvering on drilling rigs.
Head Protection under OSHA states that it is up to the employer to ensure that each and every employee at risk wears a hardhat. This is when work has falling debris that could hit an employee or when an employee could possibly fall. The hard hat that you choose should have the America National Standard for personal protection, as required by OSHA.
Hardhats fall into three different groups: C, E, and G. A hard hat that cannot protect you from an electrical shock is classified under group C. Hardhats that are capable of withstanding up to 20,000 volts of electricity are in Group E. Group G can only withstand 2,500 volts of electrical shock. There are also two types of hardhats. Type 1, which protects the top of your head, and Type 2, which not only protects the top of your head but the sides of your head.
Be sure that you make the correct choice of hardhat for the particular job and hazards that may occur:
- It should not be too heavy;
- Needs to be comfortable and fit correctly;
- Choose one that is made of the material that fits the job you do.
- Some types of hardhats can be worn backwards, which at times may make your job easier to do. If the description of the hardhat does not specify that this is possible, do not select that type of hardhat.
- The lining of the hardhat should be thick enough to absorb shock in case you fall.
- Straps on the hardhat should fit securely around the chin.
- Hardhats have mounts for other types of equipment, pencils, lights, faceshields, etc.
Maintenance should be performed regularly to ensure that your personal protective equipment is in good shape and doesn’t need repair or replacing. Check for cracks on the hardhat, and if you find one, replace the hardhat. Take the time to understand the importance of wearing a hardhat. You are not making a fashion statement; you are complying with safety procedures.
Another sign that your hardhat needs replacing is when the outer casing becomes dull. If mounts on the hardhat break, it’s also time for a new one. Chin straps that create problems should be discarded and replaced.
There is one way that your hardhat can make a statement, whether it’s patriotic, camo, World War II, pink, or representing teams from the NFL, NBA, NHL, NASCAR, or your favorite NCAA team, wear your hardhat with pride. Companies that allow their employees to wear the hardhat of their choice can ensure compliance with their safety programs.
So, as we’ve written before: “Use Your Head, Wear that Hardhat!”