TABLE OF CONTENTS Oct 2000 - 3 comments

The life span of a hard hat

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Q: I've heard stickers when placed on a hard hat can change the hat's integrity. Is this true? When should hard hats be replaced?


We sent your question to David Shanahan, Occupational Safety and Health Project Manager at CSA International. His answer follows.

CSA International has a standard on head protection (Standard Z94.1-92). The organization advises against applying stickers on hard hats for three reasons:

1. The adhesive on many stickers may react with plastic and degrade the strength of the shell.

2. Metallic stickers may pose a special problem. They may conduct radiant heat from the sun creating a "hot spot" which would also weaken the plastic.

3. Stickers themselves may hide damage (e.g., cracks) or weaknesses in the shell.

In addition to stickers, users may try to "personalize" their hard hats by painting or marking them. This may create a problem similar to that of stickers. The solvents and binders in paints and marker fluids will penetrate and react with the plastic. This property is what allows these products to stick strongly to the plastic. As with the adhesives on stickers, these solvents and binders may also degrade the plastic in the hard hat creating weak areas wherever they are applied. (Some manufacturers do make hard hats that incorporate a company logo or name onto or into the shell. This is part of a custom manufacturing process and is done in such a way as to ensure that the hard hat continues to meet performance requirements in the CSA standard.)

Keep your hard hat clean and free of solvents, adhesives, grease and oil.

Drilling holes in hard hats, in order to accommodate attachments or provide ventilation, could also compromise the strength of the shell. The hard hat manufacturer should be consulted for advice on how to safely attach other equipment around the head.

We also advise against leaving a hard hat on the dashboard of a vehicle or anywhere that heat from the sun may be intensified as it passes through glass. Similarly, protectors should not be placed on or near a source of heat, such as a radiator. Exposure to high temperatures will cause the hard hat to degrade over time.

When should hard hats be replaced? is one of our most frequently asked questions. The effective life of a hard hat varies with the make and model. Most hard hats have a recommended work life of between three and seven years. In accordance with the CSA standard, each manufacturer is supposed to provide this information on or with each hard hat sold. Manufacturers will advise that once a hard hat has exceeded its effective life, it should be replaced. The standard also advises that users should be checking their head protectors daily. If the protector has been subjected to a heavy blow or has been stressed by being run over or compressed, it should also be replaced.

In general, a hard hat is a critical piece of personal protection. It is the last line of defence against objects impacting one of your most vital assets -- your head. If your protector is not in good condition or not used properly, the consequences could be tragic.

New standard for compressed breathing air

A new CSA International standard for compressed breathing air was introduced this year. We asked Jacques H. Schingh P.Eng., CIH, CRSP, chairperson of the Z180.1 Compressed Breathing Air and Systems committee to provide an overview of the standard. The following is his response.

The standard that addresses the quality of the air used with self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and supplied air respirators (SAR) is CSA International Standard Z180.1-00 Compressed Breathing Air and Systems. The fourth edition of this standard was published in January, 2000.

This standard is frequently referenced in occupational health and safety regulations and reflects the consensus of the technical committee that drafted the requirements. The committee included representatives from industry, end-users, regulatory authorities and general interest groups. As a result, the changes contained in this revised standard should be of significant interest to oh&s professionals, employers and federal and provincial authorities.

This consensus standard is the final product of many years of hard work and deliberations by the technical committee. The latest edition of the Compressed Breathing Air and Systems standard contains a number of major changes briefly described below:

• The scope of the standard no longer extends to air used for diving. The air quality requirements for diving are now explicitly addressed in the CSA standard Z275.2 Occupational Safety Code for Diving Operations.

• Overall, the standard is less prescriptive and more performance oriented.

• The standard establishes competency requirements for analytical laboratories performing the analysis of compressed breathing air. Laboratories will now need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the Standards Council of Canada.

• Requirements for the collection and analytical methods for compressed breathing air samples have been established. The requirements for validated collection and analytical methods have been explicitly outlined.

• The standard addresses the requirements for ambient air systems. This new section addresses the requirements for these widely used systems not previously considered.

• The standard provides technical guidance to users in the area of compressed breathing air system design and testing through detailed appendices. The revised and additional non-mandatory appendices will assist the user in the application of the standard in various circumstances.

• A number of amendments have been made to the components of the quality requirements for compressed breathing air. The analytical experience gained over the past many years has been reviewed and amendments were made to reflect the current thinking on this matter.

The quality of the air used with SCBA and SAR is critical to ensuring the equipment functions properly, provides adequate protection for the user and continues to meet the requirements of the respirator manufacturers and the authority having jurisdiction for occupational health and safety matters.

Indoor and outdoor air can vary in composition and may contain a number of contaminants that could affect the health and well-being of the people who breathe it. The contaminant concentrations in normal air of the lower atmosphere may vary significantly due to atmospheric conditions and local natural/industrial sources of contaminants. Even water vapour, not normally viewed as a contaminant or health hazard, is a serious concern in compressed breathing air systems and must be addressed to prevent equipment from malfunctioning.

Since many of these contaminant sources are uncontrolled, it is necessary to assess the risk they may present to a user, and to consider how these sources could affect the design or selection of an appropriate compressed breathing air system for use in any given environment.

Depending on the needs of the user and the authority having jurisdiction, it may be necessary to process and purify the air being used to ensure contaminants are removed and controlled to the prescribed levels. The Z180.1 standard explains how these objectives may be attained.

In an effort to better acquaint users with certain standards, CSA International offers training seminars on a number of standards including Z180.1-00 Compressed Breathing Air and Systems. For additional information, contact CSA International at (416) 747-4017 or


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Reader Comments

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What is the life span of a hard hat?

Posted December 13, 2013 02:59 PM


Why are fiberglass hardhats illegal in canada?

Posted August 20, 2011 10:25 AM

T.J. Moncton N.B.

I was wondering why we cannot get vented hard hats in Canada like you can in the States. Are there no CSA approved vented hard hats in Canada? It would be of great comfort to many construction workers if we could. Do you have any contacts for manufacturers in Canada? I would like to pass this idea on to them. I have mentioned it to various workers and all applaud this idea. Thank you

Posted January 24, 2011 08:44 AM

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