Hard Hats - What You Need to Know as an Employer
In one of our blog posts last week we gave you the lowdown on the hard hat colour coding so that you can tell at a glance who is who on construction sites here in the UK. Today we’re going to take a more detailed look at hard hats, or safety helmets as they’re known so that you can make sure that the safety helmet you use on the building site is giving you maximum protection at all times.
Anybody working in the construction industry knows that this type of work is a high risk activity and accidents can happen despite the strict health and safety regulations we have here in the UK. Hard hats are designed to minimise and/or reduce the severity of head injuries and British law (namely, the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992) requires that hard hats are provided to all employees working on construction sites and that they must be worn when there is a risk of head injury. Self-employed workers on site should provide their own hard hats and are responsible for making sure they wear them when necessary.
Here are some tips for employers and site managers to consider:
- It’s the responsibility of an employer to provide hard hats for workers and visitors on construction sites and ensure that they are worn. The only exemption to the requirement to wear head protection is for turban-wearing Sikhs.
- Hard hats should be in good condition and fit the person wearing it properly.
- If a hard hat is damaged in any way it should be thrown away immediately and replaced with a new one.
- Hard hats should not prevent a worker from wearing hearing protectors when they are needed.
- All hard hats should be sourced from a reputable supplier – there are fake hard hats on the market so checking that yours conforms to BS EN397:1995 is essential. This will ensure that the hat has passed the relevant tests necessary for adjustment, performance, impact, penetration, flame retarding properties, leakage and ageing.
- The hard hat should also bear an authentic CE Mark and we’ve already shown you how to make sure that the mark is not a fake.
- If a hard hat needs cleaning for any reason, it should be cleaned with warm, soapy water – never use abrasives or solvents of any kind.
- Hard hats should not be used to store or carry materials (it’s not a handy container to carry screws or nails in!).
- Hard hats should be stored away from direct sunlight as ultraviolet rays can damage the plastic shell – this means no driving around with a hard hat on the parcel shelf of a car.
- Hard hats should not be painted or have stickers affixed to them – the chemicals present in paint or glue could cause the plastic to weaken.
Make sure that nobody wears anything underneath their hard hat such as a beanie or thermal cap – this could prevent the hat from fitting properly and it could come off in the event of an accident