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Head impacts and the hardhat: Vital safety equipment

Hardhats are among the most important pieces of equipment that construction workers use. They protect your head against falling objects and against bumps with fixed objects. If there's a risk of coming into contact with electrical hazards, the hat is even somewhat protective.

If there are hazardous conditions present that could result in falling items, electrical exposure or head impacts, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to provide hardhats for employees in the workplace. This extremely important type of personal protective equipment could save lives and prevent serious injuries.

Are all hardhats the same?

No, there are several kinds. ANSI Type I hats are worn to reduce the force of an impact to the top of the head. Type 2 ANSI hardhats reduce the force of impacts to the sides or top of the head. CSA Type 1 provides impact and penetration protection for the crown, while CSA Type 2 protects the crown and lateral areas of the skull.

Class C helmets don't provide protection against electrical hazards, but ANSI helmets in Class G do protect against some low-voltage conductors. Comparatively, Class E helmets protect against higher voltage conductors up to 20,000 volts.

Why does getting the right hardhat matter?

Using the wrong hardhat won't provide the protection you need. If you are exposed to danger, there will be less, or no, protection against the hazard.

Can you keep a hardhat if it's been impacted?

Never keep a hardhat after an impact. After an impact, get rid of it immediately. The materials weaken after an impact, which means that if it's exposed to a second impact, it could break or fail when it's most needed.

Inspect your hardhat before every use. Look for any dents, cracks or cuts in the shell. If there is damage, it's a good idea to replace the hardhat's shell and suspension as soon as possible. You should also replace the hardhat if it has passed its maximum life as determined by the manufacturer.

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