Protective Headwear for Construction Sites
Protective headwear, usually referred to as hard hats, consists of a shell and
suspension. The shell resists and deflects blows to the head and shields the
wearer from chemical drips and spills. The suspension system functions as a
shock absorber to provide additional impact protection. This list addresses
areas of concerns when using protective headwear on the job site.
Selection and Use
Are job sites assessed to determine the type of protective headwear that is
Are workers involved in the selection of the headwear?
Does the selected headwear conform to ANSI Z89.1, Safety Requirements for
Industrial Head Protection?
Are workers told that bump caps (thin-shelled lightweight caps) are not to be
Are workers trained on how to select the type and class of headwear to protect
against specific hazards?
Are workers trained to identify the type of headwear by looking inside the
shell for the manufacturer, American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
designation, and class?
Are workers instructed on the proper way to fit and wear headwear?
Are workers instructed never to carry personal belongings, such as cigarette
lighters, in the headwear?
Are workers advised to keep headwear free of paint?
Are workers advised not to drill ventilation holes in the shell?
Is headwear replaced no later than the recommended date that is usually stamped
on the inside of the shell by the manufacturer?
Is defective headwear immediately removed from service and replaced?
Is the manufacturer's catalog consulted when headwear requires cleaning?
Are workers instructed to inspect shells, suspensions, headbands and sweatbands
before each use for signs of dents, cracks, penetration or any other damage
that might reduce the degree of safety of the headwear?
Hard Hats Worn Backward
There has been confusion and misinterpretation about whether OSHA allows hard
hats to be worn backward. An OSHA Standard Interpretation and Compliance Letter
dated July 22, 1992, answered this question. The letter stated, “Because ANSI
only tests and certifies hard hats to be worn with the bill foreword (sic),
hard hats worn with the bill to the rear would not be considered reliable
protection and would not meet the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.100 (a) and (b)
unless the hard hat manufacturer certifies that this practice meets the ANSI
Before allowing any hard hat to be worn backwards, management should obtain
written verification from the hard hat manufacturer that the hat has been
tested and found to be acceptable by ANSI standard when worn with the bill
turned to the rear. The manufacturer may specify that proper performance
requires the suspension to be reversed in the helmet. In this manner, only the
shell of the helmet is positioned backward on the head.
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