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Dynamic Discussions: Hard Hats vs. Safety Helmets

There are several advantages to wearing head protection and it’s generally required on most job sites. Some companies require a hard hat while others are now starting to require a safety helmet.

The Safety Helmet

Safety helmets are rapidly gaining popularity and do actually look visually different from a traditional hard hat. The main difference is that a safety helmet comes with a chin strap. The adjustable chin strap is there so if you were to take a fall, the safety helmet does not fall off and will protect you throughout the fall.

Side by Side

If you look at a standard hard hat and a safety helmet side by side, they both meet the same requirements. Both have the suspension system under the helmet. A safety helmet is oftentimes going to have a few more features than a hard hat. Features such as a flip down eye protection, clip in ear protection and adjustable vents are some of the extra features a safety helmet has that a hard hat does not.

The Hard Hat

There are advantages to a hard hat, such as being more affordable. Malta Dynamics hard hats do not have a chin strap but there are some that do. If you have a hard hat with a chin strap, then the level of protection is exactly the same as a level one safety helmet.

Head Protection in the Industry

There are certain industries that have a problem with hard hats falling off due to the amount of bending over that is done while performing work. That is a common complaint for hard hats, but if it is equipped with a chin strap then that problem can be eliminated.

All of the newest technology is being used for safety helmets and it seems like it is becoming a popular trend that head protection is required in the workplace.

The manufacturer date is right under the lid of the hard hat and typically, a hard hat has an expiration date of 5 years. You should take specific not of this because that date means that the protection is rated for safety 5 years from manufacturer date, not 5 years from date of first use.

OSHA and ANSI

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets the following criteria for head protection under standard number 1910.135(b).

1910.135(b)(1)
Criteria for head protection.
(1) Head protection must comply with any of the following consensus standards:

1910.135(b)(1)(i)
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z89.1-2009, “American National Standard for Industrial Head Protection,” incorporated by reference in Sec. 1910.6;

1910.135(b)(1)(ii)
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z89.1-2003, “American National Standard for Industrial Head Protection,” incorporated by reference in Sec. 1910.6; or

1910.135(b)(1)(iii)
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. 1910.6.

1910.135(b)(2)
Head protection devices that the employer demonstrates are at least as effective as head protection devices that are constructed in accordance with one of the above consensus standards will be deemed to be in compliance with the requirements of this section.

You always want to check with your employer to see what kind of head protection is required on job sites. Head protection comes in different styles and requirements. A type 2 helmet or hard hat includes top and side head protection whereas a type 1 helmet or hard hat protects from impact to the top of the head. These are two examples of head protection devices of several available on the market. It is important when selecting head protection to understand the capabilities and limitations of each piece.

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