Hard hat manufacturers recommend that hard hats be replaced every five years, regardless of appearance, as performance decreases after that period. You should replace the suspension inside the hard hat every year.


  • Cracks.
  • Nicks.
  • Dents.
  • Gouges.
  • Damage caused by impact, penetration or abrasions.
  • Stiffness.
  • Brittleness.
  • Fading or chalky appearance.


  • Sunlight.
  • Ultraviolet rays (welding).
  • Chemicals.
  • Temperature extremes.
  • Forcible blows.


  • Limit the use of stickers. They can hide cracks or other damage to the hard hat.
  • Don’t modify the shell or suspension.
  • Don’t drill ventilation holes in the shell.
  • Never use a suspension that’s not intended for use in your hard hat shell.
  • Don’t carry or wear anything inside of your hard hat between the suspension and the shell.
  • Hard hats must have the reverse orientation (worn backwards) arrow on the inside of the hard hat to be worn backwards. The reverse orientation performance mark specifies the hard hat meets the reverse donning standards stated in ANSIZ89.1 or CSAZ94.1
  • If the shell is damaged, replace the hard hat immediately!

The hard hat is one of the oldest, most widely used and most important pieces of personal protective equipment on the job. Take care of it. Don’t misuse it. It may save your life.

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Members can download the audio version of this toolbox talk here.


High-visibility safety apparel is personal protective safety clothing that is meant to make you more visible (conspicuous) during both daytime and nighttime use. High-visibility clothing is important because it gives the motorist a visual indication there is a person on or near their travel path, where under normal driving conditions people would not be on or near the roadway.

High-visibility vests and clothing must meet the Performance Class 2 or 3 requirements of American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/ International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) 107-2004.

All workers within the right-of-way of a federal-aid highway who are exposed either to traffic, or to construction equipment within the work area, shall wear high-visibility safety apparel.


  • Highway construction and maintenance crews.
  • Flaggers.
  • Inspectors.
  • Engineering personnel.
  • Survey crews.
  • Utility crews.
  • Responders.


Your high-visibility safety vest and clothing should be replaced when it becomes faded, torn, dirty, soiled, worn or defaced, or if it is not visible at 1,000 feet, day or night. The typical useful service life of high-visibility safety clothing depends on the type of work a person does while wearing the clothing. High-visibility clothing that is worn daily has a typical service life of approximately six months.

Reasons that may cause your vest to wear out more quickly, depending on the amount of use, include:

  • Job task that are dirtier or more demanding and could be more likely to lead to soiling or tears.
  • Hotter climates.
  • Repeated exposure to ultra-violet rays.


Download a printable PDF and recording form here.

Members can download the audio version of this toolbox talk here.

Asphalt Safety

Originally published 05/16/2018

Working on the ground during asphalt paving can be a high-risk occupation. There are hazards of working close to vehicle traffic, heavy equipment, complex machinery, and hot asphalt. Ground workers must always be aware that the traffic near the work area is ultimately controlled by individual drivers who may be inexperienced, unskilled, inattentive, or impaired. There is often no safeguard against these drivers other than the asphalt worker’s constant alertness and attention to the conditions of the jobsite.

Exercise caution when trucks are delivering asphalt. Do not move between the paving machine and backing trucks. Do not work or stand near the hopper of the paving machine when a materials truck is making its initial dump. General repairs must not be made to powered equipment until workers are protected from movement of equipment. Unsafe conditions and situations must be reported to supervisors immediately. Schedule work during low traffic hours if possible. During night operations, precautions need to be taken to yet even a higher level. Where possible light traffic control devices, reduce traffic speeds, and reduce spacing of traffic control devices.

Flaggers must be in a good physical condition, mentally alert, and have the ability to react quickly in an emergency. Flaggers vests, shirt, or jacket must be fluorescent orange, yellow, or yellow-green. Night time work requires retro reflective wear.

To protect against health hazards when working with hot asphalt, wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes:

  • Safety goggles or safety glasses.
  • Chemical resistant and heavy-duty gloves.
  • Respirator when appropriate.
  • Hard hat.
  • Long sleeved shirts.
  • Ear muffs or plugs.
  • High waterproof work boots.
  • Pants without cuffs that extend over the top of the boots.

Wash hands before eating and leaving the work site. Use soap or other safe cleaners. Eat lunch where the wind will blow fumes away from you. Shower after work as soon as possible. Change work clothes before going home to keep asphalt and solvents out of your car and home.

All workers should be trained in first-aid procedures in case of injury.

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Work Gloves

Originally published on 11/15/2017

The most used tool on any construction jobsite is the human hand. The proper work gloves can help protect against cuts, punctures, abrasions, thermal burns, vibration, chemical exposures and electrical shock. No single glove will protect from all hazards, so you should select your gloves based on the hazards that will be present on the site, the job task, work conditions and the duration of use.

Gloves are perhaps the most commonly used type of PPE. Types of gloves range from common canvas work gloves to highly specialized gloves used in specific industries.

To ensure that your gloves will adequately protect your hands:

  • Wear gloves that are right for the work being performed. Check the MSDS for information on the types of gloves to be worn for specific tasks. Your company’s competent person should be able to assist in recommending the correct glove for the work task.
  • Inspect your gloves prior to each use and don’t use them if they are torn or damaged. Look for change in shape, hardening, stretching, tears or holes. Chemicals can pass through even the smallest pinhole.
  • Wear only gloves that fit your hand. Proper fit is important. If they are too large or small, they can be clumsy to work with, get in the way, and actually become a hazard.
  • Keep the insides of your gloves clean. Contaminants inside gloves can cause blisters and burns.
  • If gloves are to be reused, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper decontamination, cleaning and storage. Take note of the expected service life of the gloves and plan for expected disposal times.

Before starting a job, ask yourself the following:

  1. What hand hazards do we have on our site?
  2. What close calls with hand injuries have we had in the past? Is it possible on this job?
  3. Do we have the type of gloves we need onsite and ready for use?
  4. What can we do to improve hand hazards on this job?

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Hard Hat Inspection and Maintenance

Originally published 06/27/2017

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.
  3. Replace a hat that has been struck by a forcible blow. The impact can reduce a hard hat’s effectiveness.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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