Hard Hats And Head Protection Tips

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Who Is Required to Wear A Hard Hat?

Those Required to Wear A Hard Hat

The first recorded building project that required the use of hardhats occurred in 1933, when construction began on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Chief engineer, Joe Strauss, wanted workers to be safe and required regular hard hats for all workers and those with a face shield to protect the many sand blasters.

OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) produced a booklet in 2003 that outlines all personal protection equipment (PPE) standards for both employees and employers. In this publication, OSHA states that “employers must ensure that their employees wear head protection if any of the following apply:

  • Objects might fall from above and strike them on the head;
  • They might bump their heads against fixed objects, such as exposed pipes or beams; or
  • There is a possibility of accidental head contact with electrical hazards."
The basic rule of thumb indicates that hard hats should be worn in all situations where there is a danger of objects falling from work being done above you. OSHA also strongly recommends that hardhats should be worn with the bill facing forward to achieve maximum protection. If you are a construction worker, carpenter, linemen, pipe fitter, plumber, electrician, timber or log worker, or welder, you should wear an approved hard hat while on the job. If you work in any function, even management, but frequent worksites with either moving or stationery objects that might prove dangerous, a hard hat is required.

What types of construction hard hats are there?

Get Covered With The Right Kind Of Construction Hard Hats

On the construction site, personal safety equipment is key to keeping yourself out of harm's way. Construction hard hats are essential to protecting you from falling debris or moving objects on the job. Make sure the construction hard hats you wear are best for the task at hand. There are two main types of construction hard hats categorized by type of impact and based on the American National Standard for Head Protection. The first type of construction hard hat is a top impact or Type I hard hat. A top impact construction hard hat helps to protect you from an object that may come from above, directly onto the top of your head. The second type of construction hard hat is a top and lateral impact or Type II hard hat. The top and lateral hard hat does double duty by reducing the impact of an object that may directly hit the top or an off-center part of your head.

Where Did Hard Hats Come From?

Brief History of Hard Hats

World famous author and professor, Peter Drucker, believes that equally famous writer Franz Kafka was the first civilian person to develop hard head protection while he was employed at the Worker's Accident Insurance Institute in Bohemia around 1912. This may be the first recorded instance of a third party requiring this protection in construction areas. The E.D. Bullard Company, a mining equipment manufacturer in California, generally gets credit for producing the first U.S. labor head protection, producing hats, first in leather, then in steel, for civilians in America. Bullard hardhats became the best known in the construction industry.

The construction of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, begun in 1933, is the first construction site wherein workers were required to wear hard hats. Around 1938, aluminum replaced steel in hard hats (except for workers dealing with electricity for obvious reasons), and by the mid 1940's, fiberglass became the material of choice. Now, hardhats are usually made from High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), often with a foam inner liner made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) for comfort and added safety.

As industrial head protection has evolved from leather helmets to hardhats, creative manufacturers now offer custom hard hats with company logos, NFL hard hats to support your favorite team, and even pink hardhats for female construction workers. About 10 years ago, the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) issued new recommendations for construction hard hats, which, while not mandatory, outline the quality of hardhats and most manufacturers now comply with these standards.

When do I replace a hard hat?

Hat check time

What with work, weather, and every day use, a hard hat can get old before its time. You'll know when it is time to get a new hard hat when:

• Cracks appear in the shell.
• Shiny surface appears dull or chalky.
• Shell becomes brittle.

While you're at it, check your suspension. You'll know when you need a fresh one if:

• The suspensions become brittle
• One or more of the mounts break off
• The suspension will no longer hold securely to the head
• The cradling straps break or become worn

It is generally a good idea to inspect your hard hat before and after each use. Although there is no set service life for hard hats, manufacturers recommend replacement after no more than 5 years.

Is There More Than One Type of Hard Hat?

Types of Hard Hats

There are many types of hard hats used in the work place today. Type 1 hats are designed to protect you from objects that might fall from above or into which you might collide. Type 2 hats protect you from both vertical and horizontal threats. The manufacture and protection standards for these general categories are published by both the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), giving you a trusted guide when you want to buy hard hats.

There are three basic categories of hardhats, the important distinction is their resistance to electrical shocks and jolts, as all provide basic falling object protection:

  • Class A – provides protection up to 2,200 volts of electricity.
  • Class B – gives you maximum electrical protection, up to 20,000 volts.
  • Class C – protects you from objects like the prior two classes, but no measurable electrical protection.
There are now hardhats that include face/sun shields, radio connections, ear muffs, and mounted lights. As you might expect, your choices of “styles” is amazing. There are many hard hat logo designs, including NFL hard hats, NASCAR hardhats, cowboy hard hats, and even pink hardhats. All other basic colors are available from a number of OSHA- and ANSI-compliant manufacturers. Most have widely adjustable head bands to keep you comfortable as well as safe while you work.

What are the OSHA regulations regarding hard hats?

OSHA Regulations On Hardhats

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces standards to ensure the safety of workers throughout the United States. OSHA has jurisdiction in just about every sector of the working group of American citizens from construction workers to office workers. OSHA maintains several guidelines in regards to the use of hardhats.

• Any area where there is a hazard of falling objects that may injure a person's head is an area where employers should require that employees wear protective headgear, such as hardhats.

• In areas where electrical hazards are present, the hardhats should reduce the hazard of electrical shock.

• Any hardhats purchased after July 5, 1994 need to comply with American National Standard for Personnel Protection-Protective Headwear for Industrial Workers-Requirements or should be equally effective at providing head protection.

What is the difference between the ANSI 1997 and 2003 revisions for hard hats?

Classes and Types Of Hard Hats

Based on the revisions to ANSI Z89.1-1997 and ANSI Z89.1-2003, hard hats can be further grouped based on voltage. In the ANSI Z89.1-1997 revision, hard hats are classified according to Classes E, G, and C:

Class E or Electrical – hard hats within this class are able to endure 20,000 volts.

Class G or General – hard hats within this category protect against 2,200 volts.

Class C or Conductive – hard hats which cannot protect against electrical voltage fall into this category.

The classes from 1997 were retained in the 2003 revision, but hard hats were further classified by “Type” in the 2003 revision:

Type I hard hats are used to protect the top of the head only.

Type II hard hats provide ability to protect the sides of the head as well.

What was the purpose of the ANSI 2003 revision on hard hats?

Protective Headwear of Industrial Workers

ANSI Z89.1-2003 is entitled, “Protective Requirements For Protective Headwear of Industrial Workers,” and is a revision to the previous standard ANSI Z89.1-1997. This standard written by the American National Standard Institute outlines the classes of hard hats based on the risk of danger to the person.

ANSI Z89.1-1997 was a revision of an earlier standard to include guidelines for hard hats in case of blows to the lateral side of the head, or blows to the top of the head.

There was only a small revision of ANSI Z89.1 from 1997 to 2003. The purpose of the 2003 revision was to state only the guidelines, making hard hats more effective to the user.

How important are hard hats?

Heads up!

It goes without saying that our head is worth protecting. It contains our brain and other important stuff that we need to do things like see, talk, hear and eat. That's why wearing a hard hat on construction sites and other places where things can fall without notice out of the sky is a no-brainer. A single head injury can handicap a person for life or even be fatal. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, injuries to workers not wearing hard hats can come from virtually every angle. More than one-half of the workers got knocked on the noggin while they were looking down. About three-tenths were just looking straight ahead minding their own business. While a third of the unprotected workers were injured when they bumped into stationary objects. The moral of the story? Keep your head up, eyes open and hard hat on.

Is there more than one level of head protection?

The ABCs of head protection

Yes. Hard hats are divided into three industrial classes:

Class G hard hats provide good impact protection but limited voltage protection. They are best for use in mining, building construction, shipbuilding, lumbering, and manufacturing.

Class E helmets provide excellent protection for electrical workers in that they protect against falling objects and high-voltage shock and burns.

Class C light-weight helmets offer limited protection. They protect workers from bumping against fixed objects but do not protect against falling objects or electric shock.

Most hard hat hard hats today offer all 3 categories and called a type 1 hard hat class C,E, & G.

How do I clean a hard hat?

Hard Hat Maintenance

Hard hats should be cleaned regularly in order to improve their length of service. Cleaning your hard hat and suspensions is pretty simple. The hard hats with or without logos can be cleaned with simple soap and water, or by using a damp towel. The plastic suspensions can be cleaned similarly; however, most modern suspensions some with a sweatband in the front or back of the hat. These sweatbands can be gently washed by hand, but they probably won't last as long as the hard hat. Several universal brow pads are available at an economical price.

Replace your hard hat when:
*Cracks appear in the shell.
*Shiny surface appears dull or chalky.
*Shell becomes brittle.

Replace your Suspension when:
*The suspensions become brittle
*One or more of the mounts break off
*The suspension will no longer hold securely to the head
*The cradling straps break or become worn

Inspect your hard hats before and after each use. Although there is no set service life for hard hats, manufacturers recommend replacement after no more than 5 years.

What types of hard hats are available?

Wearing hard hats with style

Hard hats are becoming the norm at the workplace. I know what you are thinking. Most people hate to wear their hard hats. Here's a good tip. If you are going to have to wear one of them all day long, at least let the hard hats show your personality.

Hard hats today are available with your favorite sport teams design and of course a ton of different colors. Have a favorite NFL team? NFL hard hats can be custom made to meet OSHA regulations and are constructed for style and usability. With one of these hats, you would be the talk of the work site.

Are hard hats adjustable?

The suspension story

A for real hard hat is more than just a hard polyethylene shell. Inside each one you'll find a system for securing the hard hat to your head. There are two basic ways this is done:

Pin-lock suspension is basically like a man's belt that attaches to the users head with a locking mechanism. If you want to adjust your hard hat, you have to take it off and remove the suspension.

Ratchet suspension features a quick ratchet adjusting knob. If you want to loosen or tighten the hard hat "on the go" you simply turn the knob.

The typical hard hat will have either four point suspension/six point suspension. This is the actual number of clips that mounts the cradle suspension to the shell of the hard hat.
Manufacturers such as MSA and others offer "V-guard" protection, a large embossed V designed into the hat for added protection. And that is probably all you will ever want to know about hard hat suspension systems.

Are hard hats covered by OSHA regulations

OSHA Head Protection Regulations

According to the OSHA regulations entitled, “Head Protection – 29 CFR 1910.135,” it is ensured employers take an active role in their employees wearing hard hats, in areas where they are at risk. These areas include places where heavy objects might fall on them, or where there is a risk of falling on the ground.

One important requirement to take notice of within the OSHA regulation entitled, “Head Protection,” is 29 CFR 1910.135 (b)(1) which states hard hats bought since 1994 must comply with the standard ANSI Z89.1-1997 “American National Standard for Personnel Protection-Protective Headwear for Industrial Workers-Requirements.” This is especially important for employers who provide hard hats for their staff.

Should I consider training my staff on how to wear a hard hat?

Training Your Employees About Hard Hats

As an employer, especially in the field of construction or manufacturing, training your employees to properly use a hard hat is essential. Some examples of ways to train employees about hard hats include:

Training them to identify cracks or fractures in the hard hat shell.

Training to help them determine if a problem exists with the suspension system.

Training staff to wear the hard hat in the correct manner.

Training staff to identify what areas or situations are potentially dangerous, and where or when to wear a hard hat.

Training on why it is important to wear a hard hat for protection.

Training to inform employees about what the hard hat will not protect them from.

Who designed the first hard hat?

The History Of The Hard Hat

The Bullard Company is credited with being the first to develop hard hats for industrial use. The company was founded in 1898, with carbide lamps and equipment for mine being their main manufacturing products.

The design for a hard hat to protect the head of miners was started in 1915. At this time, miners wore a regular soft cap that did not offer a head protection. By 1919, the hard hat designed was completed and it was known as the “Hard-Boiled Hat.” The patent was granted for the “Hard-Boiled Hat” made of canvas, which was steamed, and then covered, in black paint. A suspension system was added to it before the first hard hat was sold to industries.

In the year 1938, the Bullard Company went on to release the first aluminum hat. It was next replaced by fiberglass hats of the 1940s, eventually leading to the thermoplastic hat of the 1950s – 1960s.

In 1982 the Bullard Company changed the hard hat suspension system to a ratchet suspension, found to work better in construction and manufacturing.

Where was the first hard hat used?

The First Hard Hat Area

The first area where hard hats were used in the United States, was in the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The Golden Gate Bridge construction began on 1933.

The chief engineer on the construction of the bridge saw the necessity to ensure the safety of his staff, by asking the Bullard Company to design a hard hat, for protection. The resulting metal hat designed protected the workers as they constructed the bridge.

Are hard hats very expensive?

Price Comparison Of Hard Hats

Hard hats especially purchased at bulk prices are very affordable. For example, the MSA Hard Hats with full suspension, a Type I Class E and G, would retail for $9.50 if thirty-six or more are purchased.

This is in comparison to the Pyramex brand of hard hats with a pin lock suspension, and selling for $3.95 each for a bulk order of thirty-six or more.

The Omega II Safety Hats cost less than the MSA brand, but costs more than the Pyramex brand at $5.75 for thirty-six hats with pin-lock suspension. These hard hats are Type I Class C, E, and G.

Personalized custom hard hats, such as the Jackson Headturner Hellraiser, costs a bit more with a bulk price of $21.00 for thirty-six hats.

How do I know a hard hat meets government standards?

Inside information

It's easy. You don't have to call OSHA or send a letter to your Congressman. Just look at the inside of any protective helmet you are considering for your employees. You should see a label with the manufacturer's name, the ANSI standard it meets, and its class. Most hard hat hard hats today are a type 1 hard hat class C,E, & G. And, most of todays hard hats should meet the ANSI Z89.1-1997 standards. Don't forget to leave the tags in the hat just in case of an inspection.

What should I look for in head protection?

More about Hard Hats

Unlike a Cuban cigar, a good hard hat is not hard to find. Protective helmets or hard hats must have a hard outer shell and a shock-absorbing lining. The lining should incorporate a head band and straps that suspend the shell from 1 to 1 1/4 inches (2.54 cm to 3.18 cm) away from the user's head. This design provides shock absorption during impact and ventilation during wear. Also, hard hats should resist penetration by objects, absorb the shock of a blow, be water-resistant and slow burning and come with instructions explaining proper adjustment and replacement of the suspension and headband.

Do hard hats come indifferent styles?

Hard Hats

Today's head protection comes in a variety of styles that are related to the type of work being done.

Accessory Slots/Slotted Hard Hats- This is a slot on the sides of many cap-style hard hat which allows accessories such as ear muffs, faces shields, and other headgear.

Bump Caps- offers light protection but DO NOT protect against impact or blows to the top or side of the head.

Cap Style hard hats- Type of hard hat characterized by a bill in the front. Most hard-hats use this design. The design looks very similar to a baseball cap.

Full Brim hard hats- Type of hard hat with a brim that wraps completely around the hat. This helps to cover the neck and ears from the sun and other elements.

Can I put a logo on a hard hat?

Hard hats with company logo

Over the last few years, companies have been getting better and better at putting logo's on safety products like hard hats. Pad printing creates a permanent, high quality imprint at an affordable price. Custom logos or slogans may be imprinted on the front, back, and sides of most safety hardhats. In addition, several stock logo's like the American Flag, Think safety, etc

Reasons to print logo's on the hard hats…

*Use for corporate identity
*Ideal for promotional products market
*Perfect for commemorating ceremonial and special events
*Worker/area identification or differentiation
*Additional marketing for the company of business

What is one of the most important factors in choosing a hard hat?

Choosing The Correct Hard Hat

There is no debate about hard hats being able to save your life. This is especially true in industries requiring you to work either on a ladder or scaffold. As with anything that will be worn in a protective manner, it is necessary to choose the correct hard hat to protect your head.
When selecting a hard hat it is very important the hard hat you choose be comfortable to wear. There are numerous brands of hard hats available, all made of different materials. The hard hat you purchase should be made of a material that is not too heavy on the head, but is also able to protect your head in case of a fall.
Look for a hard hat with a lining that is durable enough to absorb shock by a blow to the head or fall. This lining should be attached to a band with suspension straps that hold the hard hat securely in place.
It is also recommended when selecting a hard hat, a sweatband should be included to collect moisture, and keep the head cool at the same time. For example, with construction hard hats sweat is not allowed to run into the eyes.
A unique feature of some hard hats is the ability to wear them backwards. While doing certain tasks, it might be necessary to do this. Quite a few manufacturer brands such as “The American Omega II” are hard hats, which are certified to wear backwards. However, it is unsafe to wear regular hard hats backwards, if they are not certified to wear them this way.

How do I clean my hard hat?

Clean and jerk

Cleaning your hard hat and suspensions:

The hard hats with or without logos can be cleaned with simple soap and water, or by using a damp towel. The plastic suspensions can be cleaned similarly; however, most modern suspensions come with a sweatband in the front or back of the hat. These sweatbands can be gently washed by hand, but they probably won't last as long as the hard hat. Several universal brow pads are available at an economical price.

Am I protected while wearing a hard hat?

How Hard Hats Offer Protection

The standard hard hats that are OSHA compliant offer protection based on the way they are constructed. Almost all hardhats consist of a thermoplastic material such as polyurethane shell, which is lightweight but provides durable protection.

Another way in which a hard hat, such as a NHL hard hat, will offer you protection is through the suspension system it is manufactured with. Most hard hats are either four or six point suspension systems, which absorb the force applied to your head.

A hard hat can also offer protection by being built with shields constructed around the hat to protect you in the event of a chemical splash. These shields guard vulnerable areas such as the eyes and skin.

Lastly, standard hard hats can be customized with extra safety features to protect you. These safety features include items such as neck shields or ear muff attachments.

Does OSHA or ANSI Recommend Types of Hard Hats?

OSHA and ANSI Recommended Hard Hats

OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) has issued regulation 1910.135, which outlines what personal protective equipment (PPE) should encompass. Their recommendations follow those of ANSI (American National Standards Institute), which sets standards for a variety of items, including safety hard hats. OSHA has also published a “Personal Protective Equipment Training Guide,” which covers construction hard hats and other protective items (goggles, gloves, etc.).

An MSA Hard Hat, as an example, is a source for a wide variety of hard hats ANSI approved in many colors and designs, including cowboy hard hats. There are designs that have full brims, hats with sunshields, and female-oriented hard hats, MSA has head protection that fits both your work and your personality. Jackson Hard Hats also produce high tech and high “fashion” head protection for both men and women workers. Since ANSI updated their standards in 1997, most manufacturers make both type 1 and type 2 (protects against both vertical and horizontal object problems) hard hats per these recommendations. North Hard Hats is another respected manufacturer of quality head protection and offers many choices of styles and colors.

When you buy hard hats, look for any statements that ensure those you consider are “OSHA-compliant” and/or comply with current ANSI standards of manufacture and protection. Once you are satisfied your choices meet these recommendations, you can pick out the style and color that fits your requirements and preferences.

What areas do a hard hat protect?

Why Is A Hard Hat Needed?

Head protection such as hard hats must be worn to prevent serious injury to the head. Failing to wear a hard hat in industries such as construction puts you at risk of receiving a serious injury or death.

Overall hard hats work to protect the total surface area of the head and face. They function to protect the skull, and soft tissues of the face. For example, shields on custom hard hats protect the soft tissue of the eyes and ears, which are susceptible to spills and objects entering them respectively.

However, one of the main reasons why a hard hat is needed, in potentially dangerous areas, is the amount of protection it gives to the brain. Many brain injuries have resulted from people choosing not to wear a hard hat. They might feel the situation they are working in is routine work, or not dangerous at all. Yet, no one can predict when something heavy will fall on your head. So instead of just debating the merits of hard hats, ensure your safety by wearing one.

What types of hard hats does MSA carry?

MSA Hard Hats For Every Safety Need

MSA provides equipment that protects the health and safety of people, from construction workers to miners and even law enforcement. As an established brand, MSA hard hats are a smart choice when the situation calls for safety products to protect your head. MSA hard hats provide solutions for a wide variety of instances. Choose from hard hats for industrial applications, such as their V-Gard line, which has a durable polyethylene construction. For those in need of a smaller sized head protection, MSA provides hard hats that can accommodate a size 6 cap size. If safety at night is a consideration, consider MSA hart hats that glow in the dark, such as the Glo-Mega Omega II Full Brim hard hat. And no one ever said hard hats had to be boring, either. MSA carries hard hats with a Mylar coating that allows unique designs, such as their Headturner Hellraiser hard hat, with a skull, barbed wire and crossbones.

Can you get hard hats with NFL logos on them?

NFL Hard Hats For Sports Fans

For die-hard football fans, there's no reason why you can't show your team spirit on the job. NFL hard hats are available for every football team in the league. Made by MSA, the NFL hard hats are part of the V-Gard line of helmets and come with an adjustable strap with sizes ranging from 6.5 to 8. All the NFL hard hats meet applicable ANSI safety regulations, so safety is never an issue.

The NFL hard hats are one way to make wearing safety equipment more personalized and appealing to workers who need to wear them. You can purchase an individual NFL hard hat based on a favorite football team or buy them in bulk for a discount.

Where can I get custom hard hats made?

Custom Hard Hats Make A Statement

If you want to make a statement with your safety gear, custom hard hats are a cost effective means of communicating company recognition or personalizing your equipment. The possibilities for custom hard hats are plentiful. Imprint your company logo, create custom artwork, or even display photographic images on custom hard hats. One way to get the job done is by using a provider of safety products that offers customized printing on head safety gear. Texas America Safety Company (TASCO) provides bulk printing services for custom hard hats for as little as under a dollar per logo. TASCO offers a no obligation service that provides you with a quote. Stock artwork is available as an option on head safety gear, as well.

Are There “Designer” Hard Hats?

Designer Hard Hats

Whether you want to promote your company with “fun” hard hats or are a construction, electrical, plumbing, or other professional working in conditions requiring OSHA – or ANSI – compliant head gear, you can find designer hard hats that will meet your demands. Working in Dallas? You can wear a cowboy hard hat for protection. Are you a NASCAR fan? You can buy hard hats with Dale, Jr., Tony Stewart, and other driver's colors and numbers. Whether you're a fan of the Patriots, Steelers, Jaguars, or another team, you can purchase NFL hard hats to show your colors and hard hat logo.

Basic plastic hard hats (which don't provide real workplace protection) can be purchased for company public relations purposes. For instance, a recent project at a New England credit union involved the construction of an additional floor above the current one. The lobby had to remain open so the credit union offered plastic hard hats to its members transacting business as a way of making the apparent inconvenience lighthearted and fun. These were not construction hard hats but looked like the real thing and sported the company logo on the front.

Hard hats ANSI – compliant are made in all the colors of the rainbow and manufacturers like Bullard Hardhats, North Hard Hats, MSA Hard Hats, Jackson Hard Hats, and others give you a wide menu of choices of styles and protection levels to ensure you will look good on the job, while protecting your safety.

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