Where there is a serious risk of receiving a head injury from a falling or flying object at your place of work, a hard hat is essential for head protection. There is a wide range available, and the choice is determined by your requirements and the type of work you’re carrying out.
Preventing injuries which could potentially cause life-threatening injuries, wearing one of these on-site means you’re safe from minor accidental knocks and scrapes too. However, you must ensure it’s fitted and worn correctly.
A safety helmet may be designed solely to protect from impacts to the top of the head, or to include side, front and rear impact protection too. But hard hats are available to protect against specific risks, from molten metal splashes to electrical insulations.
Plus they’re available to suit the type of work you’re undertaking. When you need upward visibility, there are safety hats available with smaller peaks, and with retention systems to ensure they stay in position when you’re carrying out physical tasks. They can also feature reflectivity for increased visibility in low light, as well as ventilation and sweatbands for comfort.
But also, bump caps are suitable for those who simply need basic protection, such as scratches and bumping your head on a low pipe. Looking like an ordinary baseball cap, it’s perhaps the ideal choice for the domestic tradesman.
What’s The Standard?
The minimum standard for which a hard hat must comply is EN397. This ensures that you and other workers are protected from the demands of an industrial or construction environment. First of all, the hard hat will have to have undergone a series of impact tests to ensure the spread of energy from a 5kg falling object at a one-metre height, at temperatures between -10°C and +50°C.
It also includes penetration protection, so the tip of a dropped 3kg mass, from a one-metre height, does not come into contact with the skull. The standard also ensures some flammability protection, secure anchorage to the head, and that the date of manufacture is displayed as they have a shelf life of five years.
When you need protection beyond this, then there are other standards to look out for, with EN14052 building upon those initial foundations.
Making A Choice
Before making a decision, you must identify the specific hazards in the place of work, and take into consideration any specific standards that exist for those looking to protect against those hazards. Plus, if the worker is required to wear ear muffs, safety glasses or masks, you need to think about how they can wear other personal protective equipment so they do not hinder the effectiveness of each other. For example, some hard hats have the ability to attach other equipment to them.
You should also consider the tasks the wearer will carry out whilst wearing the hard hat, to ensure it can be properly secured and doesn’t hinder their work.
Afterwards, the safety helmet must be properly maintained, cleaned with soap, water and a soft cloth, not stored in direct sunlight, and must be regularly inspected to check for signs of superficial abrasions or scuffing.