According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), traumatic brain injuries represented a quarter of all construction fatalities during an eight-year investigation. During that time, more than 2,200 workers died as a result of a traumatic brain injury. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established rules and regulations governing personal protective equipment (PPE) that protects the head and reduces the chance of traumatic brain injury.
It’s important to be vigilant when assessing your team’s safety. They could be wearing PPE that doesn’t fall within the guidelines instituted by OSHA. In this three-part series, our OSHA defense attorneys will discuss the importance of OSHA-compliant head protection, when to wear head protection, what your head protection should protect you from, and more.
When Do You Need to Wear Protective Headgear?
The innumerable hazards on any given construction site present a constant threat to the well-being of your workers. Your workers are required to wear head protection if any of the following potential hazards could occur on your project site:
- Overhead objects may fall and cause head injury
- Workers could bump their heads on objects like pipes, beams, or scaffolding
- Potential electrical hazards pose a threat of contact with workers’ heads
Any occupation that works with the risk of falling objects must wear head protection. Hard hats should be worn correctly with the bill facing forward, not backwards. There are a wide variety of occupations that commonly require protective headgear including:
- Construction workers
- Timber and log cutters
Protective Headgear Qualifications
Protective helmets, hard hats, and other forms of protective headgear are designed to protect you from overhead impact, but they should also help prevent injury from a variety of other potential hazards as well. If you are uncertain whether your workers’ PPE is up to OSHA standards, an OSHA attorney can help you verify whether your workers are satisfactorily protected by assessing whether or not your PPE is compliant with the following:
- Resists penetration by sharp objects
- Absorbs shock from impacts
- Slow burning
- Includes clear instructions for adjusting the fit of the helmet as well as instructions for replacing
- the suspension and headband
- Utilizes a hard outer shell and a shock-absorbing lining
- Meets American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard Z89.1-1986 (Protective Headgear for Industrial Workers) or ANSI Standard (Z89.1-1969) if purchased before July 5, 1994.
Head injuries can seriously impair workers or even be fatal. Without question, the simplest way to protect your team is to ensure that they are wearing OSHA-compliant protective headgear. In part two and part three, we will explore different types of hard hats and examine size and care considerations for protective headgear.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.