OSHA head protection requirements are contained in Section 1910.135 of the General Industry regulations. Here’s an overview of the requirements and how to comply with them.
OSHA Head Protection Equipment Requirements
The OSHA Standard for head protection requires that all head protection meet the criteria established in the ANSI Z89.1 Standard (1986, 1997, and 2003), which requires protection to a worker’s head from impact of objects falling onto a worker’s head as well as situations when a worker might bump into an object such as a pipe or low hanging ceiling. They also require protection from impact with electrical conductors.
The OSHA Standard for the Construction Industry, found at 29 CFR 1926.100, also requires head protection to be in compliance with ANSI Z89.1, but it references 1969 version. However, as with eye protection, most head protection purchased from vendors will meet the most recent ANSI Standard criteria.
Hard Hat Selection Requirements
The typical hazards to a worker’s head include:
Hard hats vary by the type of hazard they protect against. Some are designed to protect against falling objects, while others are designed to protect against bumping into objects and some protect against contact with exposed electrical conductors.
If you let workers purchase their own hard hats, make sure the hard hats they buy meet the ANSI or CSA Standard. An indication of this is found inside the shell of the hat.
Classifications of Hard Hats
Hard hats are classified by two type categories of protection, impact and electrical.
Impact Hard Hats: There are two types of impact protection hard hats:
Electrical hard hats: These hard hats are designed to provide both impact protection as well as contact with exposed electrical conductors such as high-voltage shock and electrical burns. There are three classes of hard hats in this category:
The hard hats you purchase will have both a Type and a Class, depending upon your needs. Hard hats also come with full or partial brims as well as the ability to attach ear muffs and/or face shields.
Proper Use and Care of Hard Hats
Head protection must be inspected to ensure that it’s kept free from damage or defects that impair its effectiveness. Hard hats found to be defective should be immediately removed from service.
It’s also important to ensure workers properly care for and use their hard hats. Thus, for example, caution workers not to cover their hard hat with too many stickers or paint as it impedes the ability to notice cracks or damage. Head protection is also typically designed to be worn with the brim facing forward and not as a kind of baseball catcher’s helmet.[fbcomments]