|Safety -- Q and A on hard hat use|
|Issue Archives - November-December 2009 issue|
Hard hats are your first line of defense for head protection, but their widespread use doesn’t mean that everyone knows how to use or maintain these important pieces of personal protection equipment. That’s why Bullard assembled answers to common hard hat questions.
While Bullard’s advice generally applies to most hard hats, consult your hard hat manufacturer for any questions you may have about hard hat use and maintenance.
Q. When should I replace my hard hat?
A. Generally, replace them every five years, regardless of the cap’s outward appearance. But if the jobsite exposes hard hats to temperature or sunlight extremes or chemicals, they should be replaced every two years. In rare cases, they may need to be replaced in less than two years.
Always replace a hard hat shell and suspension if it has been struck by a forcible blow of any magnitude, even if no damage is visible.
Test a hard hat for degradation by using your hands to compress the shell inward from the sides about 1", then release the pressure without dropping the shell. It should quickly return to its original shape. Compare its elasticity with that of a new hard hat shell. If it does not have the same elasticity as a new shell or if it cracks, replace it immediately.
Q. Can I wear my hard hat backwards?
A. ANSI Z89 Type 1 hard hats from Bullard have been tested and meet the standard’s requirements when worn with the shell turned backward if the suspension is also reversed so the brow pad is against the forehead and the extended nape strap is at the base of the skull. This applies to Bullard Z89.1-2003 Type 1 helmets only (models C30, 3000, C33, 303, 302RT, 4100, 502, S51, S61, S62, S71, 911C & 911H). Due to design differences, Bullard ANSI Z89.1-2003 Type 2 helmets (Advent and Vector hard hats) should not be worn backward.
Q. Can I wear a baseball cap under my hard hat?
A. Hard hats must meet or exceed ANSI Z89.1-2003 standards. Currently, there are no requirements or tests to examine the effect of wearing a baseball cap or any other object inside a hard hat.
Bullard recommends that hard hat users never carry or wear anything inside a hard hat. There must be clearance between the hard hat shell and the wearer’s head for the suspension system to work properly.
An additional cap or other object may limit this clearance. Plus, if the cap or object has metal parts, such as a metal button at the top of a baseball cap, it may diminish dielectric protection.
Finally, never place any item above or below the crown straps because it will affect hard hat performance.
However, fabric winter liners and cotton sunshades are designed to work in conjunction with hard hats.
Q. Can I put stickers on or engrave my hard hat?
A. Self-adhesive stickers used to personalize hard hats or for other purposes is a common practice. The pressure-sensitive adhesive is very unlikely to chemically react with the helmet shell and would not be expected to affect the helmet under normal conditions.
Adhesive stickers should be at least 3/4" away from the edge of the helmet, and the helmet area covered with one or more stickers should be kept to a minimum so it doesn’t hide signs of damage or aging. If any surface cracks appear on the shell surface, the helmet should be replaced immediately.
Engraving identification data on the underside of the brim of the helmet will not affect the helmet’s performance, but do not engrave or modify the crown area, the intersection between the crown and brim, or in the vicinity of the suspension key sockets.
The best practice is always to use the helmet as it was received from the manufacturer, or to consult the manufacturer before making any product modifications.
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