Hard Hat Replacement and Inspection Concepts
Protective headwear (hard hats) consists of two PCComponents that require regular
inspection: the shell and the suspension. Ultraviolet (UV) light is the shell’s
worst enemy, in that it is susceptible to deterioration from UV exposure over
time. If the hat is exposed on a regular basis to temperature extremes,
sunlight or chemicals, it should be replaced routinely after two years of use.
Many employers routinely replace all hats every five years. Most hard hats have
a date code stamped by the manufacturer on the underside of the brim so that
their age can be easily determined.
Regardless of length of use, if a hard hat has been struck by a forcible blow
of any magnitude or has been dropped more than 8 to 10 feet, it should be
replaced immediately, even if no damage is visible. These actions should be
performed regularly to ascertain that a hard hat is in good condition.
Inspect the shell and replace if it shows signs of cracks, nicks, dents,
gouges, penetration or abrasions.
Replace shells made of thermoplastic (polyethylene, polycarbonate, etc.)
materials if they show signs of stiffness, brittleness, fading, dullness of
color or a chalky appearance.
Field-test the hat by compressing the shell inward from the sides about 1 in
(2.54 cm) with both hands, then releasing the pressure without dropping the
shell. The shell should quickly return to its original shape, exhibiting
elasticity - there should be no residual deformation.
Check that extra holes have not been drilled in the shell for ventilation
Ensure that stickers on the shell do not interfere with the inspection.
(Although stickers will not harm a hard hat's performance under normal
conditions, their application can prevent the hard hat from being properly
inspected for signs of damage.)
Ensure that adhesive stickers are placed at least 3/4 in (1.9 cm) away from the
edge of the hat. If the stickers were to wrap around the brim, they could act
as an electrical conductor between the outside and inside of the shell.
Inspect the suspension for cracks or tears, frayed or cut straps, loss of
pliability or other signs of wear. Remove from service and replace immediately
any suspension that shows signs of damage.
Ensure that all keys (i.e., the devices that attach the suspension to the
shell) fit tightly and securely into their respective key slots.
Refer to the manufacturer's instructions to ensure that the suspension was
Ensure that the suspension is intended for use with that particular shell and
has not been substituted with one made by a different manufacturer.
Ensure that nothing is stored inside of the hard hat between the suspension and
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