Hard Heads Still Need a Hard Hat
Throwing on a hard hat when you are in the warehouse or headed to a job site is a great habit, but it's also important to know why it's required and be able to evaluate if you are wearing the right hard hat for your job.
Head protection, specifically the use of a hard hat, isn't only a construction site requirement. Even though most construction work requires head protection, it is important that workers recognize work tasks where helmets or hard hats are needed even when they are not on a construction site.
Examples of jobs where head protection may be required include: electricians, mechanics, pipe fitters, assemblers, packers, wrappers, welders, freight handlers, cutting and logging, stock handlers, and warehouse personnel.
OSHA rules state that where falling object hazards are present, helmets (hard hats) must be worn. But that isn't the only time that a hard hat may be required. It is important that workers are aware of any possible hazards to their head such as:
Falling objects or items that could potentially fall from heights above them such as parts, tools, packages, boxes and other stored or racked materials
Flying parts or particles from cutting, conveyor or grinding operations
Moving parts, pieces or objects being handled by overhead lifting equipment such as gantry cranes
Striking the front, sides or top of the head by walking under shelves, racks, pipes or structures
Contact with electrical lines, wires or energized parts
Workers need to know that not every hard hat is the same! The type of protection provided by a hard hat can be very different depending on the style and the manufacturer.
Head protection, such as hard hats, must be designed to provide protection from impact and penetration hazards caused by falling objects. OSHA requires hard hats to meet special requirements and be marked with ANSI Z89.1.
Depending on the job, some workers may be required to wear hard hats that also provide protection from impacts that happen to the sides of the hard hat, in addition to the top of the head. These types of hard hats are classified as Type II helmets according to ANSI Z89.1.
There are also three classes of hard hats related to electrical protection.
Class G or General hard hats provide some electrical protection
Class E or Electrical hard hats provide significant protection from electrical hazards
Class C or Conductive hard hats do not provide any protection from electricity
Just because wearing a hard hat seems basic, don't assume that workers don't need training in this area. It is important that all employees required to wear head protection receive training on how to recognize hazards that require head protection, how to properly wear and maintain personal head protection and when to replace the hard hat.
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