Clearance between the hard hat shell and the wearer's head is required for the system to work properly. Placing items such as gloves in this space, or wearing baseball caps or insulated hats underneath, may limit the clearance and negatively affect hard hat performance.
- Care/maintenance — Even if they are used in an outdoor environment, avoid storing hard hats in direct sunlight, such as on the dashboard of a pickup truck.
Bullard also advises changing the hard hat suspension at least once a year, or more frequently if an inspection reveals cracks, frayed ribbon, etc. "And if an impact has occurred, remove the hat from service, even if there is no visible damage," says Gaunce.
The Construction Safety Council further suggests replacing a hard hat if the brim or shell is nicked, cracked, perforated, or deformed; there is a loss of surface gloss; there is chalking, fading or flaking of the surface; the shell is stiff or brittle; or it has made an electrical contact.
You can check the integrity of polyethylene shells by compressing the shell inward from the sides about 1 in. with both hands. Release the pressure without dropping the shell. It should return to its original shape. If it does not, replace it immediately.
In general, those within the industry recommend replacing hard hats every five years. You can check the "born-on" date underneath the bill to determine the age of existing hats used by your workers.
According to OSHA, about 1,000 eye injuries occur every day in the workplace at an annual cost of $300 million in lost production time, medical expenses and workers' compensation. It identifies two major reasons for eye injuries at work: not wearing eye protection, or wearing the wrong kind of protection for the job.
When selecting eye protection, determine what it needs to protect workers from. Safety glasses, goggles and face shields provide protection from impacts, heat, chemicals, dust and radiation. Safety glasses protect the eyes from impact hazards such as flying fragments, objects, large chips and particles. Those with side shields are required when a hazard from flying objects exists.
Goggles offer protection from impact hazards by forming a seal around the eye area to keep contaminants out. Ventilated goggles, both direct- and indirect — permit air circulation while protecting against airborne particles, dust, liquids or light. Non-ventilated goggles provide protection from chemical splashes.
Face shields protect the entire face or portions of it from impact hazards. Keep in mind that they are designed to be used in combination with safety glasses or goggles — they do not provide impact resistance when worn alone. Select a face shield window with the appropriate transparency and thickness for the specific task at hand. Windows and head gear devices are also available in various combinations.
If a worker wears prescription eyewear, ask an optometrist about prescription lenses and frames that meet ANSI Z87.1 standards. Or if you don't want to purchase another pair of glasses, the worker can use non-prescription safety glasses or goggles that fit over the prescription eyewear.
The Construction Safety Council suggests replacing protective eyewear when a lens is cracked or does not stay in the frame; when the frame is broken, bent or distorted; when an impact has occurred; and when the lenses are scratched to the point that vision is obscured.
Hearing protection is moving beyond earplugs and passive earmuffs with the introduction of new technology such as electronic noise canceling (ENC) earmuffs from companies such as ProTech Communications, Inc. and Bacou-Dalloz.
"Historically, hearing protection had limitations in that products like traditional ear plugs and earmuffs don't offer much protection from low-frequency noise that comes from engines, fans, motors, etc. that are common on a jobsite," explains Joanna Lipper, vice president of marketing and communications at ProTech Communications. Low-frequency noise makes it difficult for a person to hear and comprehend speech and warning signals.
ProTech's NoiseBuster Electronic Noise Canceling (ENC) Safety Earmuff combines passive hearing protection for mid- and high-frequency noise with advanced ENC technology to help protect against low-frequency noise.