A head injury can’t be fixed with a bandage and aspirin. Most of these injuries require ongoing medical care and change the victim’s quality of life forever. Your head is exposed to injury every day on the job, but you can avoid most head injuries if you wear the right headgear and learn to take care of the headgear properly.
Using Head Protection
The easiest form of head protection is consistently wearing a hard hat. Safety headgear softens any blow to the head by acting as a shock absorber. Even if the hat dents or shatters, it still takes some force out of the blow.
You should wear your hard hat in accordance with your company’s procedures, following the specific instructions provided by your supervisor, and anytime you identify an overhead hazard in your work area. Generally when you work in a warehouse, shop, construction site, or in an area around overhead work, near cranes, cherry pickers, hoists or forklifts, you will be required to wear a hard hat.
Hard Hat Components
Hard hats have features that are designed to give your head maximum protection. Be sure these components are in good working order and securely adjusted to fit your head:<
- Brim. Part of the shell that extends outward all around the hat.
- Crown Straps. Part of the harness that holds the top of your head.
- Harness. The complete assembly which holds the hat in position on your head. There should be approximately one inch between the harness and shell so air can circulate to keep your scalp cool.
- Headband. An adjustable strap that encircles your forehead.
- Nape Strap. An adjustable strap that fits behind your head to hold the hat in place.
- Peak. Part of the shell that extends forward to shield the forehead and eyes.
- Shell. A container for the suspension, accessories and fittings. Made of material which is non-flammable and non-irritating and sometimes non-conductive.
- Suspension. The internal cradle of the hat. Made up of the headband, crown straps and protective padding. This part of the harness distributes impact over the whole head.
Hard Hat Use and Care
Inspect your hat every day to look for:
- Gouges and cracks
- Frayed or broken sweatbands and straps
- Cracked, torn, frayed or otherwise deteriorated suspension systems
- Deformed, cracked or perforated brims or shells
- Flaking, chalking or loss of surface gloss
If identification is needed, use color-coded hats. Don’t paint or scratch your hard hat to identify it. Paints contain solvents that may react and weaken the shell. Similarly, use only mild soap to clean hats; harsh detergents and solvents can damage the plastic.
Sunlight and heat can rot the harness and straps. Don’t leave your hard hat on the front or back window ledge of your car.
Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for replacement of suspensions and hats. Some recommend a maximum of one year for suspensions and five years for the hat.