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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

Your head is a fragile asset and you need to protect it. Selecting, wearing and maintaining the appropriate hard hat can often be a matter of life and death on the job site. Not all plumbing jobs require hard hats, but if you’re working a commercial or industrial job, chances are strong you’ll need one.

When Do You Need a Hard Hat?

The Occupational Safety and Hazards Administration (OSHA) regulations state that you and your crew must wear hard hats when faced with the potential of objects falling from above. This includes wearing a hard hat if exposed to the possibility of bumping your lid on a fixed overhead object, such as an exposed pipe or electrical hazard.

Interior residential jobs rarely meet the hazard requirements to warrant a hard hat. In fact, they might be a hindrance rather than a help inside the average home.

OSHA Standards for Hard Hats

As per OSHA regulations, hard hats must be able to resist penetration by objects and absorb the shock of a blow. OSHA approved hard hats are water resistant and slow burning. They come equipped with clear instructions on use and adjustment.

As per OSHA standards, approved hard hats have a hard outer shell with a lining to absorb shocks and a headband and strap system that keeps the shell a minimum of 1 to 1.25 inches away from your head to provide optimal protection and ventilation.

All protective headgear should meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard Z89.1-1986 or provide the same level of protection set forth by that mandate. If you invested in hard hats and helmets prior to July 5, 1994, the gear has to comply with earlier standards and is okay for use.

Choosing the Right Hard Hat for the Job

Hard hats fall into three main OSHA-defined categories, so knowing the different types available can help you choose the best personal protective equipment (PPE) for you and your plumbing crew.

• Class A hard hats provide the best mixture of impact resistance and electrical resistance. They need to successfully protect your head from impact against stationary objects and penetration from falling objects. They also provide a voltage resistance of up to 2,200 volts. If you’re working in an enclosed space with live wires present, as is the case with some commercial access spaces, a Class A hat is the way to go.

• Chances are slim that you’ll ever have to use a Class B helmet, which provides the highest level of protection against electrical shock (up to 20,000 volts.) These hard hats are more appropriate for electricians and some general contractors.

• Most likely, you’ll usually need a Class C hard hat, which provides impact protection from bumps against overhead objects and penetration protection from falling objects.​

Don’t confuse a certified class C hard hat with a “bump hat”, which is not ANSI approved and only offers protection if you bump against a stationary object in low clearance areas. They don’t protect against falling objects or any type of electrical shock. A bump hat is an appropriate choice for some jobs, but hard hats are not inexpensive, so it’s often better to buy a certified Class C hat that provides a better level of protection.

Fitting a Hard Hat

If your hard hat doesn’t fit or isn’t properly maintained, it won’t provide the protection you need. Even if it’s up to ANSI standards, even if it’s OSHA approved, if you aren’t using it correctly it won’t keep you safe.

OSHA standards for protective headgear require hard hats to be adjustable: most PPE for your head comes with an adjustable headband that allows you to tailor the fit in 1/8 - inch increments. Some hard hats are equipped with brims to provide a channel for water to run away from the face. Ensure that hard hats with additional features like this don’t compromise the safety or integrity of the hat itself.

Wear the hat according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Keep the brim forward, and keep it on while you’re working in an area where a threat to your head is present. Don’t try to cut corners for the sake of comfort; hard hats are meant to save lives in the event of an accident.

Hard Hat Maintenance

Inspect your hard hat daily prior to use. Check the shell, suspension system, accessories and inner lining for cracks, tears or other damage that compromise the integrity of the hat. A broken hard hat should not be worn with the expectation of protection. Replace it rather than risk it. If you sustain a blow from an impact, replace the hat even if you can’t see any damage.

Clean your hard hat regularly. Sweat can degrade the adjustable bands of hard hats, so a quick wipe down at the end of your work day can prolong the life of your helmet. Exposure to the elements can degrade the hat, as well – certain abrasive cleaning products can weaken the outer shell. Follow manufacturer recommendations when cleaning a hard hat – when in doubt use mild soap and water.

It’s commonly recommended not to drill holes, paint or add additional labels or stickers to a hard hat – doing so can compromise protection levels. Don’t leave a hard hat in extreme heat or sunlight, which can degrade the helmet.

Wearing a hard hat when a risk is present protects you not only from painful and costly injuries, but also the possibility of an OSHA violation. All professionals should be current on OSHA standards regarding which hard hats are appropriate for any given job site – they’re an additional piece of vital equipment.

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3 Posts
I've been getting Guardian for my employees at the jobsite for over a year now and they always have nice things to say about them. The quality is great, they are comfortable and adjusting the straps is easy and they are very durable. The price has to be one of the most competitive on the market right now given the great quality and the overall comfort. I feel confident that if I were to take a fall, this item would do its intended job.
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