Visit any construction site or industrial facility, and you’re likely to see hard hats on every worker’s head. This form of personal protective equipment is required at all job sites where there’s a risk of electrical shock, burns, or impact from falling or flying objects. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers are responsible for providing head protection for their workers.
Hard hats are designed to protect the wearer’s head by providing a rigid exterior shell that prevents penetration and an internal suspension system that absorbs the impact of falling objects. Unfortunately, poor-fitting hard hats often go unworn, leaving workers unprotected. This makes it essential to find the perfect fit, so workers can comfortably wear their hard hats for hours at a time.
The problem is hard hats aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Everyone has a unique head shape and circumference, ear placement, and neck measurements, giving you endless combinations of dimensions to consider. This is why a hat that fits one worker comfortably feels painful after 20 minutes for another.
To combat the problems associated with hard hats, follow these tips to help you find the perfect fit.
- Prioritize protection: First, make sure you choose hard hats that suit their intended use. Select equipment that meets ANSI standard Z89.1-2014. Pick Type I hard hats for protection from falling objects and Type II hats for additional lateral protection in higher-risk settings. Also, consider electrical protection requirements, brims to guard the wearer’s face from the elements, and additional back-of-the-head protection where fall hazards exist.
- Reduce shell weight: The outer shell is what contributes most to a hard hat’s overall weight and bulk. Older versions are more likely to cause muscle strain because they weigh more. Switch out your older hard hats with new, lightweight models that provide the same level of protection with greater comfort.
- Choose adjustable suspensions: The most comfortable fit is possible for all your workers when you choose hard hats with adjustable suspensions. Old versions typically feature a tab lock, ratchet or pin lock adjustment in the back, but newer styles have multiple adjustment points. This allows the wearer to fine-tune the fit at the front, sides, and back of the hat.
- Consider chin straps: The key is to balance hard hat tightness – which can lead to pinching or pressure – with retention. For jobs where out-of-position work is common, you should consider using hard hats with chin straps to make them more secure on the wearer’s head.
- Try before you buy: Prior to placing a bulk order of hard hats, try them on yourself. This way, you can gain an understanding of whether the weight and adjustability of the hats will suit your workers’ needs.
Work-n-Wear offers a wide selection of PPE, including hard hats. Visit our Salem, Oregon location to browse and try on our products before you make your final purchase. For more information, please contact us online or call (503) 364-3064.