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Tips For Choosing A Work Helmet - A Detailed Guide
Helmets, head gears, or hard hats are mandatory in many industries. Whether you are a miner, firefighter, construction worker, logger, technician in the auto-industry, or a welder; you need to wear a reliable and sturdy hard hat or helmet to prevent traumatic head injuries.
High-quality work helmets are designed for optimal safety and comfort. They are also versatile for use in a wide range of demanding work environments.
Let us take a look at some tips to help you choose the right helmet for your work:
How To Choose A Helmet For Work
1. Know the different types of helmets and hardhats
The following table shows the different features of various kinds of work helmets:
*Class E includes electrical hard hats for protection up to 20,000V, Class G – general protection up to 2200 V, and class C include conductive hardhats without protection against electric circuits.
Different helmets do different things.
For example, hard hats are useful for construction and industrial applications, military helmets consist of Kevlar material, while motorcycle helmets are useful for riding and preventing head injuries from impacts. None are interchangeable. They are all sophisticated, and specially designed for the activity. Work helmets are designed after careful scientific research.
Always consider the job and the environment you will be wearing your helmet in. Make sure that the chosen hardhat offers the best protection for hazards likely in that work environment.
For example, in labs with chemicals or areas with biological hazards, you’d need eye protection and face shields. On the other hand, in areas with falling debris, you’d need hard hats that can protect your skull your eyes and face from perforation by sharp debris.
In both cases, you must make sure that the hat offers protection to the head from all sides (side to side and front to back). You can also look for helmets that allow attachments like headlamps so that you can work in poorly lit conditions. Forestry helmets come with removable visors and even ear muffs to protect your ears while working with loud tools like saws, etc.
2. Meets safety standards
Different work helmets conform to different safety standards. Wearing a helmet properly strapped is also compulsory in many work places. However, laws and standards keep changing, so keep yourself abreast of the current standards.
If you are touring different work establishments, then plan to wear your work helmet everywhere you go but also carry the information related to the different work places along with the state-wise differences, wherever applicable.
Most hard hats have to meet the ANSI standards. If the hardhat has vents, then it should conform to ANSI Z89.1-2014 standards. In some countries, hardhats cannot be vented if it is used in electrical work.
Some types of work also need reflective helmets. Either the entire helmet is made of a florescent color or it might have some amount of retro-reflective strips on it.
3. Select the right material
Work helmets come in different materials and you can choose one that offers the requisite degree of protection, yet is comfortable at the same time.
Look for breathable lightweight ABS shells with fabric and PU (polyurethane) padding or removable attachments. Some helmets come with mesh or plastic visors for protecting eyes and face. You can also go for heavy-duty fiberglass helmets if your work involves chemicals or in hot environment.
4. Select the right suspension mechanism
There are two kinds of suspension mechanisms in headgear – pin-lock or ratchet. The pin-lock mechanism comes with a belt where you lock the pin in the right hole for size adjustments. The ratchet type comes with a size-adjustment knob which you turn to loosen or tighten as desired.
You can also select from 6 to 8 suspension points – the higher number of points are definitely better since they spread the impact of the falling debris over a wider area.
5. Check additional features
Your hardhat or work helmet can have a plethora of features. The market is full of stylish helmets with features like colors, attachment points, detachable visors, and padded ear muffs, mesh visors, sweat-wicking and odor resistant lining, etc.
6. Get the right fit
There is more to buying a work helmet than just choosing the one that matches your hat size or guessing S. M, or L.
However, your hat-size is a good starting point. If you don’t know your size, measure around widest part of your head – usually just above the eyebrows, in front, and over your eyes. Try it several times till you get the largest measurement.
If your head size falls between the numbers listed, opt for the larger size. Most helmet manufacturers use S, M, L, or XL to mark their helmets and hard hats. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer to get the best fitting helmet.
These days, hard hats are made with one-size-fits-most design. They can also be worn by both men and women. Most hardhats for construction work and protection from falling debris come with 6-point attachment that allow you to change the suspension from 6.5 to 8 inches.
7. Try it on
Even if you buy your helmet online, you need to try it on. Make the following fit-and-size checks:
- Padding over the head, cheeks and ears should feel comfortable. It should not press uncomfortably on these points.
- Ensure that there are no gaps between temples and brow pads.
- For full-face helmet, make sure that the face shield does not press against the nose and chin.
- Also ensure that the helmet offers a snug fit; it should not tilt on your head.
- Avoid too large a helmet as it will move about a lot when you are working.
FAQs On Work Helmets
1. What are the different color codes for work helmets?
Red helmets are for fire-fighters, white for foremen, engineers, supervisors. Electricians and carpenters wear blue helmets, while green is the color for safety officers. Construction workers and road repairmen wear orange for its higher visibility. General laborers and earth moving operators wear bright yellow hardhats, again for better visibility. Site visitors are often given grey hardhats.
2. Can you wear a hardhat backwards?
Under some circumstances, you need to wear a hardhat backwards. However, if the hat is OSHA compliant, then you must only wear it the way it has been designed to be worn. Avoid wearing it backwards since the hardhat won’t provide the same degree of protection against impacts when worn that way.
3. Can you stick stickers on hardhats?
Yes, you can add stickers on work helmets, provided you follow certain rules. An important rule is that you should not cover any damage to the hardhat using the sticker. Secondly, the sticker should be at least ½ an inch away from the helmet’s edges.
4. Can you drill holes in a hardhat?
Never drill holes in the work helmet or hardhats because they can significantly reduce the hat’s protection and could even alter its suspension mechanism.
5. How long do safety helmets last?
High-quality safety helmets can last for at least 4-5 years. Many workplaces ask to replace helmets after they have reached this period. The lifespan of a helmet also depends on the kind risks it has been exposed to.
Work helmets are an important part of PPE. They can protect workers from work-place injuries such as impacts, falling debris, splashes of hot liquids, chemicals, etc. They can also prevent traumatic head injuries.
We hope this guide helps you choose the right work helmet for your needs.
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