The hard hat is one of the oldest, most widely used and important pieces of personal protective equipment on the construction site. In order for it to protect you, it must be regularly inspected, maintained and properly worn. A conventional hard hat consists of two components, the shell and the suspension, which work together as a system. The following tips will help you keep your hard hat in optimal condition:
- Inspect your hard hat before each use.
– Begin with the shell and look for cracks, nicks, dents, gouges and any damage caused by impact, penetration or abrasions. If your hat is made of thermoplastic materials, check the shell for stiffness, brittleness, fading, dullness of color or a chalky appearance. If any of these conditions are present, or if the shell is damaged, replace it immediately.
– If your work is predominantly in sunlight, consider replacing your hard hat more frequently, because ultraviolet light can cause the hat’s shell to deteriorate over time. Do not store your hard hat on the rear window shelf of an automobile or in direct sunlight. Also, replace your hat’s shell if you work in an area with high exposure to temperature extremes or chemicals.
– Inspect the suspension in your hard hat. The suspension absorbs the shock of a blow to the top of the hard hat. Look for cracks, tears, frayed or cut straps or lack of pliability.
- Limit the use of stickers. They won’t necessarily interfere with the hat’s performance, but they may interfere with your ability to thoroughly inspect the shell for signs of damage.
- Replace a hard hat shell and suspension that has been struck by a forcible blow, because the impact can reduce a hard hat’s effectiveness even if no damage is visible.
- Never modify the shell or suspension. Do not drill ventilation holes in the shell. Never use a suspension that is not intended for use in your particular hard hat shell. Do not carry or wear anything inside of your hard hat between the suspension and the shell.
- Avoid contact of the hard hat with electrical wires.
- Because hard hats can be damaged, they should not be abused. They should be kept free of abrasions, scrapes, and nicks and should not be dropped, thrown, or used as supports. Do not sit on your hard hat.
- As a general guideline, all new employees should be provided with a new, unused hard hat.
Inspecting, maintaining and/or replacing your hard hat is well worth the effort and expense. You don’t want to be injured because you are wearing a hard hat that has outlived its usefulness.