Hard hats are important pieces of safety equipment. On UK construction sites, and in other work environments, they are an essential item.
Buying the right hat, maintaining it and using it in the right way is important. Doing so protects workers from injury and ensures that firms avoid being prosecuted for breaches of health and safety laws.
Here we explain how to choose the right hard hat for use in the UK.
Any hard hat that is used in the UK has to comply with British Standard EN 397. The standard ensures that a safety helmet will not deform laterally under sustained pressure. This is the minimum standard, so any helmet or hat you buy has to be marked as conforming to this standard.
It is also wise to look for hard hats that are CE stamped.
Comfort and looks
It is wise to buy hats that are comfortable and look good. This is the best way to ensure that people actually wear their protective headgear.
Here are the main comfort considerations:
Good ventilation is essential with a hard hat. One of the biggest reasons people remove their safety headgear when they are working is because they get too hot.
Some hard hats come with replaceable sweatbands. These are especially useful for workers who work in particularly hot environments.
It is also important to choose a hard hat that is practical for the worker to use when carrying out their day-to-day tasks. Here are some things you need to bear in mind when buying protective helmets.
The right brim
Choosing the right brim is important. Workers who work outdoors need a brim to provide shade from the sun, but someone in an indoor environment may not.
If a worker spends a lot of their time, looking up a large brim is going to be a hindrance in which case helmets without brims may be a better option. It is possible to buy helmets with removable visors or for workers to use protective sunglasses if they need brimless protective headgear and work outdoors.
Hard hats are adjustable and are designed to fit snugly, so they should not fall off when a worker looks up. However, in some environments you may need to provide hard hats that include chinstraps. For example if a worker has to lay on the floor to do something or look under something which requires his or head to be upside down for a short time a chinstrap is the only way to ensure that their hard hat remains in place.
For those who work outside a built in rain gutter is also a good idea.
In some environments, it is necessary for workers to wear hearing protection. It is important that this need be catered for when buying protective hats. Helmets with the ability to accommodate hearing protectors or with them built in are essential in some work environments, so this is an important consideration when buying hard hats.
Chemical and heat resistance
In some work environments, workers can potentially be exposed to heat or chemicals. It is important to buy protective headgear that can withstand these special conditions. These are the main considerations that apply to the vast majority of work environments.