Safety Helmets have been around for a long time when shipbuilders used to cover their hats with tar to provide a barrier against objects and tools falling off ships. Nowadays, the hard hat is now an iconic symbol for that in the industry.
Generally Polyethylene is used to make Hard hats. Hard hats can incorporate accessories like shields, visors, hearing protectors, and lighting. OSHA demands that head protections be worn when working in an area prone to head injury due to falling objects. A sign that reads, “Hard Hat Required” will welcome all workers on the premises who wear one regardless of their profession or job.
Although hard hats are typically the preferred option for protection against severe and life-altering injury or death, increasingly, they are being replaced with safety helmets.
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These helmets, derived from those used in extreme sports like rock climbing or whitewater rafting, can be put closer to the head and come with chin straps built-in. The ‘helmet revolution’ is causing certain safety professionals to look beyond the standard hard hat when it comes to choosing the most appropriate protective gear that will meet their team’s requirements while ensuring they are safe working.
The Importance of Head Protection
Modernization of PPE is beneficial for employees as well as their employers as well as insurance companies. With many ways to be injured at work, Head protection is crucial to guard against falling objects like debris and tools or fixed objects like electric hazards or pipes and slips, trips, or falls. However, despite the fact it is essential for safety in the workplace, the risk of head injuries continues to be among the most common injuries that occur during work.
The most frequent head injuries are concussions, head contusions, brain bleeding, skull fractures, and hematomas. Remote Medical International (RMI) claims that most head injuries occurring in the construction industries result from accidents and slips.
According to OSHA, In 2016, 38% of deaths at work resulted from falls, which makes the majority of workplace fatalities.
If you’re wearing the proper head protection device the serious but common injuries are more likely to be prevented and could help save lives case of workers falling or slipping. Businesses could avoid millions of dollars worth of lost work time and compensation for injured workers. At the same time, insurance providers could see reduced claims and, overall, lower risk.
Similar to many other PPE helmets, the head protection that is certified by OSHA is in compliance with the minimum standards stipulated in OSHA. It also has been certified from OSHA’s American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as well as the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA). Head protection classification is determined using the words “Type” and a “Class,” and PPE manufacturers make different styles of helmets to address the different dangers in construction sites.The type is the degree of protection against impacts.
Classes of Safety Helmets
ANSI Type I. Type I lessens the impact force from a blow at just the upper part of your head.
ANSI Type II. Type II lessens impact force caused by lateral impacts resulting from an impact. A blow may be received off-center, either on the side or the top. The word “Class” refers to the different levels of protection against electrical currents.
- *Class E (Electrical) rated for 22,000 voltages
- *Class G (General) rated for 2,200 Volts
- *Class C (Conductive) does not provide electrical safety.
Both Safe and Efficient
Hard hats have always been the preferred choice of construction workers, because of their protection of their heads risks on job sites, they can come from all directions. They comprise more than just the possibility of a falling object from above. Workers can be fall or hit by a piece of the material moving through the site.
Similar to hard hats, safety helmets protect your head’s top. However, unlike a traditional hard helmet, the Type II-rated safety helmet also offers more protection from side impacts to the head, whether from the side or off the sides.
Although it’s not a well-known option, some workers have an chin strap onto their hard hats to prevent them from removing it. In the absence of a chin strap, due to the design of the helmet, it could be removed, resulting in the most head-related injuries of the 88,000 that occur annually as per the RMI.
Safety helmets come with built-in neck straps, which makes them much more easy to wear. The chin straps keep it in its place and will not slide off like a hard hat.
Making sure the PPE remains on the ground in the event of a trip, fall, or slip is essential for ensuring the safety of the person wearing it.
The growing demand for safety helmets used on job sites has led to some producers of helmets for head protection and other types of PPE creating helmets with safety, comfort, and efficiency of the user in the forefront.
Other options include antimicrobial sweatbands , helmet liners that prevent the growth of odors and bacteria. They are machine washing. New technology means that personnel do not have to sacrifice security in order to remain relaxed.Similar to its hard-hat equivalent, helmets for safety offer options for attachable visors and ear protection. These options make traditional hard helmets and hats more effective for those who wear them.
One of the significant disadvantages of safety helmets is the price. Safety helmets are more costly than hard helmets. Traditional hard hats may cost as low as $15, and helmets can run more than $100, depending on the type of helmet and optional features. This upfront expense could make it difficult for small businesses or individuals to justify. Likewise, replacing a damaged or stolen hard hat is not as expensive.
Although they may initially be more costly, contractors may eventually provide an environment of safety for their staff. If the workplace requires helmets and safety equipment, this could lead to fewer insurance premiums. With lower insurance rates, contractors can compete more effectively for contracts.
The decision to wear safety helmets can also be a matter of the user’s preference, particularly for those who’ve spent decades wearing the same kind for head protection.
The overall appearance and feel of the safety helmet are distinct from the hard hat, and some people might not feel comfortable changing to it right away. It could take a while for employees to adjust to the helmet’s minimalist comfortable fit.
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The helmet fits closer to the skull. Certain workers may think it is heavier than traditional hard hats, and others might feel more secure. However, there are PPE manufacturers producing helmets designed to be safe, comfortable, efficient, and practical. The change in the culture towards helmet-style head protection could be a challenge for certain workers in the construction sector to accept.
Preventing head injuries requires an ongoing effort for all those working on working on the building site. Safety managers, manufacturers, and contractors can now avoid head injuries on the construction site, by using safety helmets that traditional style hard hats might not be able to defend against.
It is a new trend. Specific construction sites have switched to safety helmets. However, others are still wearing hard hats based on the work they need to complete.
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Will the hard hat be an iconic image of construction sites 10 or 15 years from today, or will the safety helmet accurately depict the scene? The only way to know is time.