Hardhats are necessary in almost every industry. Miners, firefighters, electricians, plumbers, welders and loggers, among many others, need them as their first line of defence against possible head injuries on the job. Just like any other safety and personal protection device, it is crucial to select the best hardhat to protect your head.
Selecting the best hardhat
To many people, selecting the best hardhat should be pretty simple. In reality, there is a bit more involved in the hardhat selection process. Here is a list of the factors you should consider in choosing the best hardhat for your specific workplace needs:
1. Job and work environment
In assessing the type and class of your hardhat, consider first what job it is you do and where you do it. Make sure the hardhats you wear are the best for the work to be done.
Assess your work environment fully and identify how and where possible hazards could arise.
There are two types of head protection, according to CSA Group (formerly the Canadian Standards Association) and other similar organizations:
— Type 1 hardhats protect only against objects that drop or penetrate from above.
— Type 2 hardhats protect from blows not just from the top, but also from side-to-side and front to back. They could protect your head against lateral impacts.
In addition, if your job or work environment involves coming in contact with electricity, you should also consider the level of electrical shock the hardhat could withstand. The following are the three classes of hardhats:
— Class E (Electrical) hardhats could protect up to 20,000 volts.
— Class G (General) hardhats could protect up to 2,200 volts.
— Class C (Conductive) hardhats have no defence against electric current.
Hardhats available in the market are made of a number of different materials. While it is practical to choose those that are made of lightweight materials, make sure that your choice will not compromise the level of protection that you need.
Plastic is the most common material for hardhats. However, there are hardhats made with other compounds to cater to specific industries, positions and work environments. For example, a fiberglass hardhat should be the choice when you are working with molten metals because it provides better protection in extreme heat.
4. Suspension mechanism
As the backbone of hardhats, the suspension system is an important factor in your process of selecting the best hardhat for your specific needs.
Hardhat suspension comes in two types that are defined by the adjustment mechanism used:
— Pin-lock suspension
— Ratchet suspension
Hardhats with a pin-lock suspension have a locking mechanism that could be compared to a regular belt. To be able to adjust this kind of hardhat, you have to take it off and lock the pin to the appropriate hole.
Hardhats with ratchet suspension feature a quick ratchet-adjusting knob. To be able to loosen or tighten this kind of hardhat, you just have to turn the knob without removing the hardhat from your head.
5. Suspension points
Most hardhats are available with four, six or eight suspension points. The more suspension points, the higher the hardhat’s ability to spread out the force of an impact and reduce the risk of injury.
There are some manufacturers that offer hardhats with a unique feature of having the option to wear it backwards. There are specific jobs that demand this kind of hardhat. Please take note that these are specific models designed for this type of functionality and that wearing a standard hardhat backwards is risky.
7. Additional features
With the numerous brands of hardhats now in the market, you may also have the luxury of selecting the best hardhat based on which of them offer additional features.
Some brands offer hardhats that are vented to keep your head cooler. There are brands that offer hardhats with terry cloth and vinyl brow pads to keep sweat off your eyes. Others feature winter liners to insulate the head.
Lots of options
You can see that there are lots of options to consider in the hardhat selection process. However, given the importance of head protection in a work environment, it is worth taking adequate time to evaluate these factors and select the best hardhat for your needs.
Headquartered in Emeryville, California, Industrial Safety Supply Corporation (ISSC) supplies and distributes safety and emergency products from four California locations.