Protective Headwear Needed for Personal Safety
Whenever workers are on the site moving heavy objects, heavy machinery, operating under objects overhead, or simply anywhere where there’s a risk of objects falling, flying, or exploding, there is a significant risk of someone getting hurt, injured, or even killed if they do not have the proper protective headwear. A single blow to the head can permanently brain damage even the healthiest of individuals. Best case scenario after receiving a blow to the head is a massive headache. Neither of these are things you want for obvious reasons. Because of these inherent risks, it is important to protect your workers from the inevitable falling objects, painful bumps, and sometimes, high-voltage electric shocks that can be received in the workplace. Anytime there is “a potential for head injury from falling or moving objects” or where workers’ heads could be exposed to electricity, it is required that these workers wear ANSI approved head protection. To help you better protect your workers’ heads and peace of mind in the workplace, we’ve compiled this list of protective headwear your employees should be wearing when working in dangerous areas.
ANSI has established regulations and guidelines for protective headwear, the latest being ANSI Z9.1-1986. Standard regulations require the manufacturer’s name to be on the inside of the headwear along with one of the following designations:
- Class A: These hard hats are designed to protect heads from falling objects as well as from electric shock from LOW VOLTAGE conductors.
- Class B: These function the same as Class A hard hats except for the fact that they prevent electric when exposed to HIGH VOLTAGE conductors.
- Class C: These protect heads from all falling objects, but offer no protection whatsoever from any type of electrical conductor.
Primarily, hard hats are meant to protect the tops of your workers’ heads, so any penetration from the top of the shell will not harm the wearer. It should also provide some protection from lateral threats as well. The most important thing to remember is the wearer MUST WEAR THE HARD HAT PROPERLY FOR IT TO WORK. Sometimes workers get in the habit of wearing their hats backwards. This limits the amount of protection they give. If they wear their hats tilted on their heads, then they are basically not getting any protection at all. All you are doing is wasting your time and money when your employees wear their hard hats incorrectly.
Care of Hard Hats
Your hard hats will only protect you and your employees as well as you take care of and maintain them. To do this, you’ll want to do the following:
- On a daily basis, inspect hard hats for cracks, signs of wear and tear, and deterioration to make sure that they are still providing the same amount of protection as when you first bought them.
- If any hard hats show signs of cracking, chalking, or are losing surface gloss, get rid of them.
- You can use decals or tape to mark hard hats for identification purposes. DON’T paint or engrave your hard hats.
- NEVER keep hard hats on window shelves of vehicles. Extreme temperatures can affect the degree of protection the helmet provides. The hat can also become a dangerous projectile if a vehicle accident should happen.
- Internal suspension systems of hard hats should be replaced at least once a year. You’ll have to replace it immediately if it were to become detached from the shell for some reason. Hair oils and dirt can also weaken the helmet’s shock absorption system.
- Hard hats and any sweatbands that go along with them should be washed in warm, soapy water and rinsed carefully at least once a month.
Bump caps do NOT offer the same type of protection that hard hats do. They don’t protect against major blows to the head or from falling objects, so NEVER use a bump cap in place of a hard hat. However, bump caps can be very useful when workers are working in tight, cramped places where they could easily absorb painful bumps, scrapes, cuts, or bruises to the head. Keep this in mind when deciding which type of cap or helmet you need.
Protecting your workers’ heads is one of the most important things you can do as a supervisor. Not only that, it’s REQUIRED by law that all of your employees be wearing protective headwear when operating in dangerous areas where a blow to the head could easily happen, or there is a threat of objects falling from overhead. Don’t be short-sighted when thinking about employee safety, use your head!
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