The hard hat has been synonymous with construction and manual labor industries, but modern work environments are finding that hard hats may not be the safest to use. From aluminum, fiberglass, to hard plastic, hard hats have seen changes over the past 100 years. Workplaces are now finding the use of safety helmets as safer alternatives.
Hard hats are traditionally meant to protect from falling objects directly above the head, and they offer little to no protection to the back or sides of the head. However, modern hard hats are now evolving into safety helmets, the types you normally see a hiker, rock climber, or skier wear. They include features, such as chin straps, ventilation, visors, lighting, and protective padding. They also lack a brim that you normally would see on a traditional hard hat.
Hard Hat and Helmet Types and Classes
Workplace head protection is given a type and class according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations:
- American National Standards Institute (ANSI) compliant head protection is the industry standard that OSHA requires employers to follow. The “type” is the amount of protection it provides from impact, while “class” refers to protection from electrical shock.
- ANSI Type I helmets or hard hats protect against impact to the top of the head.
- ANSI Type II helmets or hard hats protect against impact to the sides and the top of the head.
- Class E stands for “electrical” and can withstand up to 20,000 volts.
- Class G is for “general” and can withstand up to 2,200 volts.
- Class C is for “conductive” and does not provide any protection from electricity.
- Type I Class C hard hats are the standard helmet for construction workers.
Many workers switch between hard hats and safety helmets, depending on the job they are performing. Safety helmets are primarily used for those at risk of falling or getting hit on the side or back of the head, while hard hats are used by those at ground level.
Safety helmets have many positives, but also a few negatives. Not only do safety helmets offer better protection over hard hats, but they typically last longer, sometimes up to 10 years. However, they are quite expensive, with some ranging from $100 or more, which make them difficult to replace should they get lost.
Most workers find safety helmets to be more comfortable as well. Modern helmets can be equipped with accessories, such as shields, visors, and ear and neck protectors. They can also be equipped with different suspensions, such as 4-point or 8-point suspension specifically designed for the wearer.
Some construction workers may feel uncomfortable making the switch, but the safety that helmets provide is invaluable and more companies are leaning towards their use. The proper use of equipment can lead to less workplace accidents, injuries, and even Workers’ Compensation claims.
West Chester Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Law Office of Deborah M. Truscello Help Those Who Have Been Injured in the Workplace
If you have an injury because of a work accident, contact one of our West Chester Workers’ Compensation lawyers at the Law Office of Deborah M. Truscello for legal help. Call us at (610) 892-4940 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Media, Pennsylvania, we serve clients across Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Lancaster, Montgomery County, Norristown, Philadelphia, Reading, and West Chester.