According to South Africa`s own Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, within the General Safety Regulations 3(A) PPE must be provided and it mentions only what must be provided it does not mention the type of protection! In other words there is a vacuum to guide us. Normally what happens it is up to the Health and Safety department of a company to assess and make the required recommendation towards the type of PPE that is required based upon Risk Analysis and feasibility studies. So where do we find best practice towards Personal Protective Equipment. And what is effective Head Protection? Also we will mention and refer the American Standard which is expected best practice.
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z89.1-2009, “American National Standard for Industrial Head Protection,” incorporated by reference in Sec. 1918.3;
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z89.1-2003, “American National Standard for Industrial Head Protection,” incorporated by reference in Sec. 1918.3; or
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z89.1-1997, “American National Standard for Personnel Protection–Protective Headwear for Industrial Workers–Requirements,” incorporated by reference in Sec. 1918.3.
Protective hats for head protection against impact blows must be able to withstand penetration and absorb the shock of a blow. In some cases, hats should also protect against electric shock. Recognized standards for hats have been established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
Each type and class of head protector is intended to provide protection against specific hazardous conditions. An understanding of these conditions will help in selecting the right hat for the particular situation.
The wearer should be able to identify the type of helmet by looking inside the shell for the manufacturer, ANSI designation and class. Protective hats are made in the following types and classes:
For industrial purposes, three classes are recognized:
Hats and caps under Class A are intended for protection against impact hazards. They are used in mining, construction, shipbuilding, tunneling, lumbering, and manufacturing.
Class B utility service hats and caps protect the wearer’s head from impact and penetration by falling or flying objects and from high-voltage shock and burn. They are used extensively by electrical workers.
The safety hat or cap in Class C is designed specifically for lightweight comfort an impact protection. This class is usually manufactured from aluminum and offers no dielectric protection. Class C helmets are used in certain construction and manufacturing occupations, oil fields, refineries, and chemical plants where there is no danger from electrical hazards or corrosion. They also are used on occasions where there is a possibility of bumping the head against a fixed object.
Hard Hats are made up of two primary parts. The shell is the outer part made of plastic or fiberglas. It provides the impact protection required by ANSI. It also serves as the visible sign that the worker is protected. Colors identify the type of worker on the job as well. The other part that makes up a hard hat is the headgear. Also known as the suspension, this is the bridge between the worker and the shell. It is designed to absorb the energy of impact when an object strikes the shell. This will help reduce the potential injury. It also offers comfort, adjustability.
Even though the design and comfort of hard hats have improved, head injuries that cause lost time from work was up almost 5% from just a couple years ago. These injuries can be serious and impact quality of life for workers. It also increases costs to employers. Everyone want a healthy worker and OSHA requires the employer to oversee and provide head protection for all workers exposed to these types of potential injuries. We’ve included 5 tips you should consider when searching and purchasing a hard hat for your employee.
Tip #1 – Select a hard hat that offers a comfortable fit – It makes sense that the more comfortable the hard hat is, the more likely it will stay on the workers head. With today’s innovations in head gear and composite materials, hard hats have never been more comfortable. Be sure to consider hard hats that have ample webbing built into the suspension and some sort of padding to offer maximum comfort
Tip #2 – Select a hard hat made from newer, lighter materials – As mentioned above, composite materials and even ABS plastics are durable enough to exceed ANSI requirements for impact yet they offer the added benefit of being light-weight. Look for hats that are made of light-weight materials when purchasing your hard hat.
Tip #3 – Select a hard hat that is Ansi Approved – Any hard hat, without exception, must be ANSI Z89.1-2014 approved. Industrial head protection are classified as Type 1 for top protection and Type ll for lateral impact. There are also several class ratings including “G” for general, “E” for electrical and “C” for conductive. Be sure to read the standard, analyze your work environment and select the appropriate type and class hard hat for your needs.
Tip #4 – Select a hard hat that offers an adjustable personalized fit – The key to user acceptance is comfort. light-weight hard hats are less cumbersome but if it doesn’t fit right it will spend more time in their gang box, locker or work-bench than on their head. Good head-gear allows the user to adjust the size and position for optimum comfort and performance. Features like padding around the forehead or ratchet style head-gear and absorbent material all add to the comfort and adjust ability and ultimately acceptance.
Tip #5 – Select a hard hat that is accessory ready – Many users are required to include face protection or hearing protection while they wear a hard hat. Many hard hats include accessory slots that can be used for those needed accessories. Be sure to consider those requirements when you purchase your next hard hat.