Hard Hats and Health and Safety – What You Need To Know

Posted on written by Sam Barton

How important is it to wear a hard hat on a construction site?

In the construction industry in the UK, 3% of workers sustain a work-related injury and 11% of these injuries are from being struck by an object. In fact, another 66,000 injuries are estimated to go unreported every year.

Wearing a hard hat is not only about practicing good health and safety but it is about protecting yourself from harm as well.

In this week’s blog post we want to have a look at hard hats, what the law says around wearing them, what constitutes a suitable hard hat and finally we tackle the question of whether or not they go out of date.

Do You Need To Wear A Hard Hat On A Construction Site?

It depends.

The risk of a head injury occurring on a construction site is a lot higher than many other industries hence why there is such an emphasis on wearing hard hats. Working in construction is a high risk job and accidents do happen even on sites that have a stellar health and safety record.

Under the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992, employers have to provide workers with a hard hat and it also ensures employees are required to wear a hard hat on site where there is a risk of head injuries. This extends to visitors too. There are exemptions for certain religious groups. For example, turban-wearing Sikhs are exempt from wearing a hard hat in the workplace however for the most part everyone is obligated to wear one where a risk is present.

While it isn’t 100% compulsory by law to wear a safety helmet on a construction site if there is no risk of head injuries, on the vast majority of construction site the danger is real so wearing hard hats are necessary.

What Is A Suitable Hard Hat?

A suitable hard hat should be free of any damages and be in good condition. It should also fit the person that is wearing it to provide maximum protection while also allowing room to wear other PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for example hearing protectors. Hard hats used in the UK must be manufactured to BS EN 397 standard.

Any damaged hard hats shouldn’t be used and should instead be discarded, but can a hard hat go ‘out of date’?

What Is The Expiration Date Of A Hard Hat?

While there isn’t a legal expiration date for hard hats, most companies use a policy of 5 years from the manufacturing date and 3 from the date of issue.

If a hard hat becomes damaged before this time has passed then it obviously needs replaced however the 3 and 5 year rule is good practice to follow. If the hat is consistently exposed to extreme conditions such as cold temperatures, harsh chemicals or high levels of sunlight then it should be replaced every 2 years.

Wearing PPE equipment and hard hats in particular is important on a construction site due to the nature and risk of the job.

It only takes a second for an accident to happen which could potentially be fatal and a hard hat is a solid line of defence if an incident does occur in such a dangerous working environment.

Hard hats and your safety

12 Responses to “Hard Hats and Health and Safety – What You Need To Know”

  1. Ed Davidson

    When did hard hats etc. become compulsory in the basic steel industry? Where can I find this information?

    Reply
    • Nisha Dhingra

      Hi Ed,

      Thank you for your comment. The Construction (Head Protection) Regulations 1989 were the enforcing rules for the use of hard hats being compulsory under certain circumstances. However, these were revoked on the 6th of April 2013. The hard had use has been governed by:

      – The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (as amended) and
      – The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002

      It is important to be aware Hard Hats (and Personal Protective Equipment, also known as PPE) are generally regarded as a ‘last resort’ for use, where risks cannot be controlled by other means. For further information on Hard Hats, you can click here, which will take you to the NBS website. The NBS is a technology platform for the construction industry.

      I hope I have been able to help.

      Kind regards,

      Nisha

      Reply
  2. Steve

    Hi having a talk at work is an ANSI class G helmet equal to British standards EN397

    Reply
    • Nisha Dhingra

      Hi Steve,

      The ANSI class G helmet does not have the CE mark, which indicates a product meets the EU safety, health or environmental requirements. As a result, this means the ANSI class G helmet does not meet the British standards EN397 directly, however it can be argued it could equal to the British standards EN397.

      I hope I have been able to help.

      Kind regards,

      Nisha

      Reply
  3. Neil

    Hi
    Can standard hard hats be worn when working at height ie MCWP

    Kind regards

    Neil

    Reply
    • Sam Barton

      Hi Neil,

      Standard hard hats are suitable for most working at height activities particularly on work platforms. You tend to get specialist hard hats for height activities such as abseiling.

      There will be other PPE required for working at height, it’ll all be covered on a MCWP course if that’s what you’re doing. If you need any more help or advice please let us know.

      Sam

      Reply
  4. Nicci Trotman

    Hi
    I have a requirement from a site we’re due to start on that all hard hats must have operatives name on it. I’ve looked at legislation and it states no stickers or writing on hard hats – but I have found a site for Hard hat stickers! We’re a small organisation so cannot afford a minimum 40 print on new hats. Is there an approved company that we should buy stickers from?

    Thanks in advance

    Nicci

    Reply
    • Nisha Dhingra

      Hi Nicci,

      Thank you for your comment. In regards to your query, I would advise you to follow the legislation of stickers on helmets and perhaps discuss your decision with the site manager. As a result, I am unable to advise on you on a company you should purchase helmet stickers from.

      Kind regards,

      Nisha

      Reply
  5. Mik

    at what stage of a job are hard hats no longer necessary?

    Reply
    • Nisha Dhingra

      Hi Mik,

      Thank you for your comment. The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations 1992, applies to the provision and of hard hats on construction sites, which states where there is risk of head injury hard harts must be worn. If they’re are no risks, then a hard hat will not be required. However, it is common for construction sites to have high risk of injury, therefore the law will require head protection to be worn in most cases.

      It is extremely important to follow the PPE regulations and to check with the onsite manager if there are any risks for a hard hat to be permitted or not.

      I hope I have been able to help.

      Kind regards,

      Nisha

      Reply
  6. S

    Is is necessary to wear hard hats when operating earth-moving construction plant (diggers etc…) when the plant is fitted with a FOPS and ROPS cab? (Falling object protective structure, roll-over protective structure)?

    Reply
    • Nisha Dhingra

      Hi,

      Thank you for your comment.

      The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992 states where there is risk of head injury hard hats must be worn. It is extremely important to follow the PPE regulations and to check with the onsite manager if there are any risks for a hard hat to be permitted or not.

      In terms of your query of construction workers operating earth-moving construction plants, it is common for operators to exit their vehicles, which can pose a risk of injury. As a result it is important to wear your hard hat at all times, as stepping out of the vehicle or alongside it can be hazardous.

      For further information on Hard Hats, you can click here, which will take you to the NBS website. The NBS is a technology platform for the construction industry.

      I hope I have been able to help.

      Kind regards,

      Nisha

      Reply

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