October 2009 Safety Tip

Hard Hats

The average safety hard hat weighs about 14 ounces. The average man's head weighs 14 pounds. So there's an ounce of safety for every pound of head - provided the head protection is properly worn and maintained.

The brain is the control center of the body. The slightest damage to any part of the brain will cause malfunction of some area of the body. The skull, under normal circumstances, protects the brain. But when a possibility of injury from falling or flying objects exists, additional protection is required.

Hard hats not only reduce the chances of serious injury resulting from falling objects, but protect you from side impact injuries as well and when you bump your head on things - like machinery, vehicles, cab compartment and completing vehicle components like mirrors. Non-conductive hard hats protect you from electrical shock and burns. Never wear metal hard hats around electrical work.

How to Care of Hard Hats

The better care you take of your hard hat, the better care it will take of you. Here are some suggestions:

  • Properly adjust suspension systems to maintain clearance between your head and the shell of the hat.
  • Don't cut holes for ventilation. Don't heat and bend.
  • Don't substitute a "bump cap." They aren't strong enough.
  • Don't paint your hard hat.
  • Don't put anything under it except your head; this includes cigarettes or notebooks.
  • Don't wear it backwards.

Some Common Complaints and the Real Truth

We sometimes hear the following complaints about hard hats. But is there any real basis for them?

  • "It's too heavy." Hard hats are only a few ounces heavier than a cloth cap, but the extra protection you get is worth the extra weight.
  • "It's too hot." Measurements taken in hot weather show that the temperature under a hard hat is often cooler than it is outside.
  • "It gives me a headache." A thump on the head from something that has been kicked up by a vehicle at 50 mph or fallen off a truck will give you a worse one. There is, however, no medical reason why a properly adjusted hard hat should cause a headache. Don't alter the suspension system or the hard hat, because you won't get the designed protection.
  • "It won't stay on." You're right, it won't in a high wind. A chinstrap will solve this problem. Otherwise, you will find that a hard hat stays put no matter how much stooping or bending you have to do-if it's fitted properly.
  • "It's noisy." That's your imagination. In fact, tests show that properly worn hard hats will shield your ears from noise to some extent.

It's no help unless you wear it

The hard hat is a useful piece of safety equipment. But like any other protective device, it must be properly adjusted and worn and kept in good condition to give you maximum protection.

Don't be a hard head - get in the hardhat habit.

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