Hard hats have been worn in shipyards and on construction sites for over a century. While the material it is made of has evolved from canvas to steel to rigid plastic, not much has changed about the design of the traditional hard hat – until now.
In an effort to improve safety on the job and specifically to cut down on head injuries, many construction companies are foregoing the traditional hard hat for safety helmets. In accordance with the ANSI/ISEA Z89.1 standard, traditional hard hats are designed to protect workers from dropped objects, but hazards on construction sites come from all directions.
Why Are Safety Helmets Becoming More Popular?
The most dangerous limitation of a hard hat is that it’s likely to come off a worker’s head during a slip, trip, or fall. Hard hats use a suspension system which does not necessarily secure the hat in place. This allows the hat to easily slide off if a worker falls, bends forward or looks up.
According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, “The construction industry sees the highest number of traumatic brain injuries each year, compared to any other industry.” With falls being the number one safety hazard reported by OSHA year after year, it’s no surprise that industry regulations are becoming stricter.
Much like the helmets worn by mountain climbers and cyclist, the safety helmet provides better coverage to the back and sides of the head along with an interior foam lining for additional impact resistance. Safety helmets are equipped with an adjustable chin strap to secure the helmet and ensure it remains on a worker’s head in the event of a fall.
In certain situations, a brimless helmet design can also keep you safer by allowing you to identify hazards that may be blocked by the brim of a traditional hard hat.
The Pros and Cons of Safety Helmets vs. Construction Work Hats
If you work in industries such as construction, oil and gas or transportation where you are exposed to falling objects and slips, trips and falls, a safety helmet with chin strap has a better chance of staying in place.
It also has a larger coverage area, protecting the ears and back of the head. A safety helmet can benefit both the worker wearing the safety helmet and the company they work for by reducing the number of days away from work due to injuries.
The price point could be considered a downside to the safety helmet. A safety helmet can range in price from $80 to $150 compared to a hard hat--which ranges from $15 to $50.
Although the price is higher, the service life of the product must also be considered. According to Construction Junkie website, “The KASK helmets do have a shelf life of 10 years, whereas standard hard hats typically have a five-year shelf life.”
Products to Explore Next
Giving your workers access to the correct PPE for their specific job tasks is important. If your team works in an environment where falls and dropped objects are a dangerous reality, it may be time to consider a new approach to head safety.
Check out KASK SuperPlasma HD.
How to Choose the Proper Construction Work Hats or Helmets for Your Workers
If you're looking for additional information about safety in the construction industry and the PPE that goes along with it, check out ORR Safety’s construction page here.