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, you must be regularly inspect it, maintain it and wear it properly. 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. Ultraviolet light can cause the hat’s shell to deteriorate over time. Also, replace your hat’s shell if you work in an area with high exposure to temperature extremes or chemicals. You can find the date code on the underside brim of the cap.
- 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. All keys should fit tightly and securely into their respective key slots. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for assembly. Replace your suspension if it shows signs of wear or damage.
- 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 hat that has been struck by a forcible blow. The impact can reduce a hard hat’s effectiveness.
- 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.
- Don’t wear your hard hat backwards unless the manufacturer certifies that it is safe to do so. You should have written verification from the manufacturer that your hard hat has been tested and that it complies with the requirements of the American National Standards Institute when worn with the bill turned to the rear. The manufacturer may specify that the suspension should be reversed in the helmet to ensure adequate protection. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
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.