OSHA Announces Switch From Traditional Hard Hats To Safety Helmets – In order to better safeguard its workers when they are on inspection sites, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor has announced that it is swapping out the traditional hard hats that its staff wear for more contemporary safety helmets.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, head injuries were about 6% of non-fatal occupational injuries requiring days away from work. Roughly 20% of those injuries were brought on by stumbles, falls, and other mishaps, while almost 50% happened when workers came into touch with equipment or objects.
Traditional hard helmets, which date back to the 1960s, shield the top of a worker’s head but offer little protection from side impacts and don’t have chin straps. Conventional hard hats lack straps, which means that if an employee trips or falls, the hat may come off and they won’t be covered. Furthermore, conventional hard hats were heat-trapped interiors due to a lack of vents.
On Nov. 22, 2023, OSHA published a Safety and Health Information Bulletin detailing key differences between traditional hard hats and more modern safety helmets and the advancements in design, materials and other features that help protect workers’ entire heads better. Today’s safety helmets may also offer face shields or goggles to protect against projectiles, dust and chemical splashes. Others offer built-in hearing protection and/or communication systems to enable clear communication in noisy environments.
The organization advises wearing safety helmets when working in the oil and gas and construction industries, as well as in high-temperature, specialized work and low-risk settings, performing electrical work and working at heights, and when mandated by laws or industry standards.
By setting an example and embracing the advancements in head protection, OSHA is committed to helping employers make safety and health a top priority in their workplaces.