OSHA’s New QuickTips Focus On Hard Hat Usage
Protecting employees from potential head injuries is a key element of any safety program. A head injury can impair an employee for life or can be fatal. Wearing a hard hat is one of the easiest ways to protect an employee’s head from injury. Hard hats can protect employees from impact and penetration hazards as well as from electrical shock and burn hazards. Some occupations in which employees should be required to wear head protection include construction employees, carpenters, electricians, linemen, plumbers and pipefitters, timber and log cutters, and welders, among many others.Hard hats must meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard Z89.1, Protective Headgear for Industrial Workers. In addition, OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment Standards for general industry, construction and maritime require employers to provide hard hats at no cost to employees where OSHA standards require their use.
Class A hard hats provide impact and penetration resistance along with limited voltage protection (up to 2,200 volts).
Class B hard hats provide the highest level of protection against electrical hazards, with high-voltage shock and burn protection (up to 20,000 volts). They also provide protection from impact and penetration hazards caused by flying or falling objects.
Class C hard hats provide lightweight comfort and impact protection, but offer no protection from electrical hazards.
Note that another class of protective headgear on the market is called a “bump hat,” designed for use in areas with low head clearance. They are recommended for areas where protection is needed from head bumps and lacerations, but are not designed to protect against falling or flying objects and are not ANSI approved.
OSHA’s booklet on Personal Protective Equipment is a resource offering more information on the proper use of hard hats and other personal protective equipment so that employers and employees can prevent injuries.