How To Stay Safe Using a Hard Hat
One of the most critical pieces of personal protection equipment that you’ll ever use on the job is your hard hat. While it can seem like a nuisance or may be uncomfortable to use at first, your safety at work depends on correctly choosing and using the right personal protection items, including hard hats.
Know Your Hard Hat
The anatomy of hard hats is pretty simple. The hard, exposed part is the outer shell. Inside, there is a four- to eight-point suspension system that helps to raise the outer shell above your head and distribute the weight of the hat. There is also a headband that is adjustable for the perfect fit.
Choose the Right One
To ensure safety on the job, confirm you are using the correct hard hat. There are two basic types. Type I hard hats protect you from things above your head or that fall from above. Type II hats also provide lateral protection.
In addition to these two types, there are three classes of hard hats, each designed for specific jobs.
Class G hard hats are for general jobs, such as construction, mining and manufacturing. They are mainly designed to protect the head from impact. These typically can protect your head from some electrical shock as well.
This class of hard hat is specifically for electrical jobs. Not only does it guard against impacts, but it can also resist 20,000 volts of electrical shock. According to OSHA, anyone working near exposed electrical components or wires should use this type of hat.
Also known as conductive hard hats, these are lightweight and only meant to prevent damage from light blows. This class of helmet may be ventilated but does not protect against electrical dangers at all.
Hard Hat Accessories
Apart from the basic hat options, there are plenty of accessories available that can increase safety even more, such as hearing protection, face shields, chin straps, and headlamps. Choosing the correct hat and accessories for the job is vital for maintaining safety at worksites.
It’s always smart to choose hard hats approved by the American National Standards Institute. ANSI helps ensure that hard hats are correctly made and independently tested to provide maximum protection against shocks, impacts and penetration.
Wear It Correctly
For a hard hat to work correctly to protect your head, you need to wear it right.
First off, find a hat that is snug but comfortable. If it’s too big or too small, it won’t work correctly should you get hit with something. A hat that is too small won’t cover your head enough, while one that is too large lets your head move around inside, which could lead to injury.
Measure your head circumference and then purchase the corresponding size hat, or try on a few to see what works best for you. Then, you can adjust the suspension system.
It’s never safe to change your hard hat in any way. If you modify it, it might not work correctly and it won’t be efficient should you have an accident. Modifications could also increase the chance of penetration or electrical shock.
Not modifying the hat also includes not wearing other hats underneath. While a bandana, skull cap, or winter liner is normally fine, don’t wear anything with metal pieces or that is bulky, otherwise the hat won’t fit correctly. Only wear hats or hoods that appropriately fit your head.
If you would like a ventilated hard hat or to add accessories, you should purchase a hat specifically made for it.
Generally, you should always place the brim of hard hats facing forward. They are designed to help protect your neck and your face. If you wear it backward, you risk it not working correctly or falling off your head.
There are hard hats now that are approved to be worn frontward or backward, but be sure you have such a model before doing so with yours.
Maintain It Well
Just because hard hats seem indestructible doesn’t mean they actually are. Caring for your hard hat will go a long way in increasing your safety at work.
When storing your hat, keep it out of direct sunlight or very hot or cold conditions. Plastic can degrade when exposed to the elements for an extended period of time. The trunk of a car, a car window or the back of a pickup truck are unsafe places to store hard hats.
You should regularly inspect your hard hat, and if you come across any cracks or damaged parts, don’t wear it to work. A chalky look could indicate UV damage.
All damage may not be visible at first glance. If the hat has ever experienced an impact, it’s better not to use it. After a fall of 8 feet or more, or any impact, be sure to replace your hat.
No matter how great of a condition your hard hat is in, you should replace it every two to five years. The manufacturer can tell you specifically how often you should replace their product.
Understand When To Wear It
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that you must use head protection must in areas where there is a risk of head injury due to falling objects, impact, flying objects or electrical shocks.
This includes a much wider variety of occupations than just construction. Electricians, assemblers, welders, loggers, warehouse workers, pipe fitters and many others can benefit from the enhanced safety of wearing a hard hat to work.
Better Safe Than Sorry With Hard Hat Signage
The best way to protect your head at work is to use the right hard hat, the right way and at the right time. By following OSHA guidelines and using ANSI-approved headgear, men and women in all sorts of occupations can be safer and make it home at the end of each day. Help your employees remember to use PPE with hard hat and PPE safety signs form ComplianceSigns.