Earthmoving News, Workplace Health & Safety

OSHA swaps from hard hats to helmets

Switching from traditional hard hats to safety helmets will better protect workers from head injuries, US safety authority says

The United States Department of Labour’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will opt for new modern safety helmets instead of the traditional hard hats.

OSHA’s own employees will wear the modern safety helmets on inspection sites to be better protected, an OSHA statement says.

A 2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics report states head injuries accounted for nearly six per cent of non-fatal occupational injuries involving days away from work.

Almost half of those injuries occurred when workers came in contact with an object or equipment while about 20 per cent were caused by slips, trips and falls.

Traditional hard hats lack chin straps and if a worker slips or trips the hard hat can fall off, leaving them exposed and unprotected.

This is why the new safety helmets will include chin straps allowing the helmet to sit in a fixed position and protect a worker’s head in the event of a fall.

Materials used to make the new safety helmets will include lightweight composites, fiberglass and advanced thermoplastic as opposed to hard plastics used in traditional hard hats.

Safety helmets will enhance impact resistance whilst also being lighter than hard hats, reducing neck strain and improving comfort, OHSA says.

Face shields or goggles may also be included as add-ons to the safety helmets to protect workers against projectiles, dust and chemical splashes, OSHA’s statement says.

The statement recommends “safety helmets be used by people working in the construction industry and the oil and gas industry; in high-temperature, specialised work and low-risk environments; performing tasks involving electrical work and working from heights; and when required by regulations or industry standards”.

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