There are many types of hard hats available in the marketplace today, so use your head when it comes to selecting the right product for you and the job at hand. In addition to selecting protective headgear that meets ANSI standard requirements, employers should ensure that employees wear hard hats that provide appropriate protection against potential workplace hazards, including electrical hazards. This can be done through a comprehensive hazard analysis and an awareness of the different types of protective headgear available.
ANSI/ISEA Z89.1-2009 is the latest revision to the “American National Standard for Industrial Head Protection,” which provides performance and testing requirements for helmets/hard hats. Depending on the type of hazard encountered, a product’s headwear classification is categorized in terms of impact type and electrical class. Type 1 is designed for risk of impact to the crown only (top protection) while Type 2 protects the crown as well as sides of the head (lateral impact protection). Hard hats are further divided into three classes, based on electrical insulation rating, including:
Class G (general) — tested at 2,200V. (This category is equivalent to the old Class A hard hat designation in previous versions of the standard.)
Class E (electrical) — tested to withstand 20,000V. (This category is equivalent to the old Class B hard hat.)
Class C (conductive) — provides no electrical protection. (This category did not change from previous versions of the standard.)
Key updates contained in the 2009 version of the standard include optional testing and marking features for head protection devices that reflect end-user preferences. Most notable among these are specific testing parameters and marking for products that have high-visibility properties. For more information, visit the International Safety Equipment Association’s website at http://www.safetyequipment.org/c/head.cfm.
Head protection that is either too large or too small is inappropriate for use, even if it meets all other requirements. Protective headgear must fit appropriately on the body and for the head size of each individual. Most protective headgear comes in a variety of sizes with adjustable headbands to ensure a proper fit — many adjust in 1/8-in. increments. A proper fit should allow sufficient clearance between the shell and the suspension system for ventilation and distribution of an impact. The hat should not bind, slip, fall off, or irritate the skin.
Some protective headgear allows for the use of various accessories to help employees deal with changing environmental conditions, such as slots for earmuffs, safety glasses, face shields, and mounted lights. Optional brims may provide additional protection from the sun, and some hats have channels that guide rainwater away from the face. Protective headgear accessories must not compromise the safety elements of the equipment.
The new C34 classic hard hat offers more head room and greater airflow with a customized fit for added comfort, according to the company. Enhanced with 12.5% more interior space, resulting in greater air flow for a cooler fit, the C34 incorporates customer-preferred features for worker comfort and safety, including: a full-profile, wide-brim style that fits all head sizes; spacious interior for greater airflow; high-density polyethylene shell; suspension key slots for added comfort; and protection from rain, snow, dust, and harmful ultraviolet rays. The product is available in 6-point Flex-Gear ratchet or pinlock self-sizing suspension with 1-in.-wide seamless nylon straps for added balance and comfort.
Made of a high-density material, the company’s Standard safety helmet offers excellent impact resistance and electrical insulation. The Standard helmet, which features a 6-point nylon suspension and includes a brow pad and universal accessory slots for windows, complies with ANSI standards for Type I, Class E, G, and C. The Serpent Ventilated Safety Helmet (pictured) comes with a 6-vent CoolSense Air Flow System to help minimize heat buildup under the shell of the helmet. A 6-point nylon suspension and sturdy yet lightweight high-density polyethylene material provide both comfort and impact absorption, according to the company. The Serpent safety helmet complies with the ANSI Z89.1 Standard for Type I, Class C helmets only.