There are lots of things to consider when selecting the right
hard hat for the person and for the job. There are at least 10
things that we will cover here in this article 🙂 Some of these
you may have considered and some of them may be new to you.
One thing is for certain though, hard hats prevent injuries and save lives. If you’re reading this post then you are either responsible for safe, productive and happy workers or you are one. Congratulations and we hope you find this information beneficial to your safety program.
If the hard hat is comfortable for the worker, it is more likely to remain on the workers head. The seasoned worker who has been on the worksite longer is accustomed to wearing a hard hat for long durations without issue.It is very important to address the proper hard hat fit for those new trainees who are statistically a higher onsite safety liability, and potentially unaccustomed to PPE/head protection. This is a key reason fit is probably the most critical factor outside of selecting the appropriate ANSI Class/Type for the work application.
Select a hard hat that is ANSI approved. All hard hats shells must be ANSI Z89.1-2014 approved. You may need more protection if you work in an industrial setting requiring a Type I or Type II classification. Type I is certified tested for top of head impact, Type II is certified tested for lateral impact. In addition, there are several class ratings including “G” for general, “E” for electrical and “C” for conductive. Understanding the standards and how they apply to your work environment is very important so the hard hat you select is the appropriate level/class of protection for your work needs.
There are many types of hard hats and each hat has unique features that make it accessory ready. Do you need face protection? Do you need hearing protection? Are you working on a raised platform? Do you lean forward/bent to fasten? You get the idea. Many hard hats include accessory slots designed to accept those needed accessories. Think ahead and purchase a hard hat that allows you to add-on accessories as needed.
Hard hat materials are changing. Newer, lighter materials – composite materials and ABS plastics are strong enough to meet ANSI requirements and have the added benefit of being lightweight and comfortable but the suspension underneath the helmet is just as important. The suspension is known as the headgear and it is the real hero absorbing the energy of the potential impact when an object strikes the outer shell. In addition, the suspensions can have a pin lock, slip or wheel type adjustments to fit around the circumference of the head, and some headgear are height adjustable – influencing shell height on the top of the head.
Keeping the hard hat clean is very important in some work conditions. If you work around paints, paint thinners or solvents the shell may weaken over time reducing ability to provide optimal or “designed for” head protection safety. These same materials can reduce electrical resistance.
Do you work outside in the sun? Where do you store your hat after work? Direct sunlight exposure over time or extreme heat can damage the components of a hard hat. If you consider the heat of your vehicle can reach 130+ degrees in some locations, paying close attention to storage can prolong a hard hats shelf life.
Have you ever applied stickers, or drill holes in your hard hat? Visit any worksite and you’ll likely find all types of personalization and customization going on. Workers are individuals and it’s common to see a proud display of their favorite team, brand, membership, etc. in full effect. Some workplaces have strict restrictions/policy against this because modification of any type can damage a hard hat protective capability. It is difficult to inspect a hard hat for defects with stickers.
Speaking of inspection take time to look it over before each use. If you neglect a simple inspection you can miss cracks or indentions. Hard hats with cracks, perforations or other deformities should be removed from service and replaced immediately.
What does color indicate? Color designations vary from company to company and work site to work site. In large scale, projects that involve several separate companies, employees of the same company may have a common colored hard hat. White is a color often reserved for site managers, engineers, architects, foremen or supervisors. Green is a color commonly used by safety inspectors, or new workers. Machinery operators often use hi-vis colors like yellow or orange to help others monitor machinery position.
Vented or not vented? Overheating in the sun is extremely dangerous and common. A vented hard had is one with small openings on the crown of the hat that encourage air flow. The vents improve the air flow which helps reduce the heat inside the hard hat. At the same time, consider a situation where you may encounter chemicals or chemical spray/deflection. Ventilated hard hats will allow chemicals to penetrate past the shell onto the workers head and face whereas a non-vented hard hat provide more protection in those situations.