What Level of Protection is Right for You?

Head and face protection comes in a variety of choices. From headgear and visors to full hard hat protection. Your choice depends on your application. Here’s a breakdown of the protection each option provides.

  • Headgear offers no crown protection. It covers the front of the head and holds the visor.
  • Visor carriers can be added to hard hats that have accessory slots. The visor carrier must be compatible with the brand of hard hat you’re using, unless it’s marked for Universal Fit.

Visors are considered secondary protection. ANSI approved safety glasses or goggles must be worn as primary protection to comply with ANSI standards. Visors are available in several different materials to meet the needs of your application:

  • Polycarbonate – extremely impact resistant material that blocks 99.9% of harmful UVA and UVB rays.
  • Acetate – scratch-resistant material protects against chemical splash and light impact.
  • Propionate – provides excellent abrasion resistance and limited chemical resistance.
  • Shade 3 and Shade 5 – for use around brazing or cutting applications. Shade refers to a lens that intercepts a ray of light. The higher the shade number, the more protection it provides. These visors are not for welding.
  • Wire mesh screen – for forestry-type jobs that need ventilation and full face protection against wood chips, etc.
  • Copolyester – chemical- and impact-resistant material is ideal for a wide variety of applications.

Now that your face and eyes are protected, it’s time to focus on your head. According to OSHA, head protection must meet five basic criteria to be effective. It must absorb the shock of a falling object; prevent an object from penetrating it; resist water; burn slowly; and fit properly.

OSHA’s head protection standard (29 CFR 19101.35) requires employees to wear protective helmets in areas where there is a risk of impact to, or penetration of, the head. This includes: below co-workers using tools or materials that can fall; around or under conveyor belts or other machinery that may cause objects to dislodge and fall; near objects being carried or swung; and in situations where they may bump their heads, such as when working near exposed pipes or beams.

If employees are working near exposed electrical conductors that may contact the head, they must wear a protective hard hat that reduces the risk of electrical shock.

Hard hats are available with varying levels of protection. It’s important to choose the hard hat that meets your needs.

  • Type I – the most common type of head protection. Protects the top of the head from impact.
  • Type II – protects the top and sides of the head from impact.
  • Class E– should be worn by employees working near electrical hazards. Class E hard hats have been tested to 20,000 volts.
  • Class G– provides minimum protection against electrical hazards. These hard hats have only been tested to 2,200 volts.
  • Class C – classified as conductive. This class of hard hats should not be worn when working with or near electricity.

Hard hats must be inspected daily, or before each use. Employees must replace a headband that’s stretched or worn. The entire hard hat must be replaced if the shell is cracked, broken, or punctured. If the hard hat has taken a heavy blow, it must be replaced, even if it doesn’t show any damage.

Hard hats should be replaced after 5 years of use when they’re worn in environments that have sunlight, chemicals, or temperature extremes. Suspensions should be replaced after 1 year of use.

Here are some tips on how to extend the life of your hard hat.

  • Avoid scraping or banging hard hats
  • Don’t throw them around
  • Clean hard hats at least once a month
  • Dip hard hats in hot soapy water, then scrub, rinse, and dry
  • Take out the removable sweatband and wash it periodically
  • Store hard hats in a cool place
  • Avoid leaving the hard hat in the sun. Sunlight will deteriorate the hard hat.

Head and face protection is crucial to keep you safe and productive. Choosing the right protection for your job is the first step in staying safe. If you have questions about what protection is right for you, give our Technical Support reps a call at 1-800-631-1246. They’ll give you the information you need to make the right choice.

Source: Safety Daily Advisor

Northern Safety Co., Inc.
PO Box 4250. Utica, NY 13504-4250
Phone: 1-800-571-4646
Fax: 1-800-635-1591

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