How many of you had a hard hat as a kid? We’d see them on construction workers, mine workers, electricians, construction engineers, and real estate developers. Seeing someone wearing them is a sure sign that work is getting done. But are all hard hats created the same?
In short, no. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), classifies them according to occupation; but there are certain factors that they all should meet to guarantee the maximum amount of safety for workers. You can pay attention to their requirements, or blow your budget defending lawsuits. So choose wisely.
- Inspect them regularly: Don’t just buy a batch and think they will last forever. OSHA recommends replacing the suspension every 12 months, and the entire helmet every five years. But that’s not an absolute guideline. If you work under extreme weather conditions, or a particular hat has been exposed to chemical exposure, it’s sage advice to replace them sooner.
- How to wear them: The same way some people like to wear their baseball caps backwards or sideways, some of your workers may think they look cooler if they get creative with their hard hats (cue a collective eye roll). The good news is that, as long as the worker also reverses the suspension, a backwards hard hat should still protect them. The bad news is that you should be extra careful and ask the manufacturer for a certification that their specific hat can be worn that way.
- Can workers get an exemption from wearing them due to religious reasons? Believe it or not, despite the obvious compelling interest to protect all construction workers, OSHA allows an exemption to wear hard hats due to religious reasons. It may not make sense, but it’s true. Florida’s Workers’ Compensation statutes provide for a no-fault system, which protects both the employer and the employee. However, it would be to your benefit to consult with your attorney prior to moving forward with this practice.