When Maryland construction workers clock-in, it is an automatic step to put on their personal protective equipment (PPE) before getting to work. And construction workers know that their hard hat is one of the most important pieces of PPE that they have.
However, construction workers still suffer more traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) than workers in any other industry. So, how effective are hard hats in preventing head injuries in construction accidents?
Hard hats have many protective purposes
While there are different types of hard hats designed to offer different protections in many jobs, they all serve to protect workers from hazards by:
- Stopping falling objects or debris from hitting or piercing the head
- Absorbing shocks from falling or falling objects
- Resisting water, fire, and even mitigating risks of electrical shock
With these three functions, hard hats play a significant role in protecting workers and preventing head injuries. A 2019 report demonstrates this, finding that:
- In 1970, when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was founded and established requirements for hard hats and protective equipment, there were roughly 15,000 work fatalities.
- In 2016, that number had decreased to 5,200 fatalities.
Even though hard hats help to decrease the risk of fatality and injury, head injuries are still a considerable risk. Most head injuries occur on the job when workers are not wearing their hard hats – or wearing an ineffective one.
What makes a hard hat ineffective?
Hard hats are very efficient and reliable in protecting workers on all kinds of worksites. However, it does not take much to compromise hard hats, and therefore the safety of the worker wearing them.
For example, one’s hard hat can become unsafe if there are:
- Cracks of any size in the shell or suspensions
- Dents from impacts to the hard hat
- Damages from exposure to heat or cold environments
- Decorations that jeopardize the hard hat safety features, such as paint or stickers
Workers should take time to inspect their hard hats carefully every day before use to make sure they are safe on the job each day and avoiding the risk of a life-changing head injury.