Head Protection: Think Smart!

Head Protection: Think Smart!

October 15, 2020

When you think about it, you can generally live if you were to lose an arm or a leg but your head, well, you only get one!

Keeping your head, the most complex system of the human body, safe is essential for all workers especially those exposed to the potentially hazardous situations.  

Construction Regulation in The Occupational Health and Safety Act States;(1) Every worker shall wear protective headwear at all times when on a project. O. Reg. 213/91, s.22(1).

Head protection (e.g. hard hats) protects workers from being hit in the head by falling objects (e.g. boxes, lumber, or roofing materials) and from hitting their heads against fixed objects (such as beams and pipes). Some head protection also protects against contact with electricity by absorbing shock, resisting penetration by objects, being resistant to water, and having a high burning point.

Hard hats however are not all created equal. The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) prepared a series of tests to classify them according to their level of protection.

Classes of head protection can include:

Type 1-protection from impact and penetration at the crown (top)

Type 2-protection from impact penetration at the crown (top) and laterally (sides and back)

Each type is also available in the following classes:

  • Class E (20 000 V electrical rating)-non-conducting material (electrical trades).
  • Class G (2200 V electrical rating)-non-conducting material (general trades).
  • Class C (no electrical rating). Class E type 1 or 2 are permitted by the MOL on construction sites

If you only need to protect yourself against impacts and blows, class G and C hard hats are enough. Hard hat shells are made of fiberglass, phenolic resin, polyester, polycarbonate, textile laminates or even aluminum (class C only). They resist impacts and punctures. Class G hard hats also resist voltages of 2,200 volts. Class G is recommended because in almost every work place, workers encounter low-voltage electrical devices.

Note: bump hats/bump caps are not the same as hard hats; they only protect against head bumps and lacerations and can be useful where there is low clearance.

A few helpful hints

  • For heavy work, select shells having a thickness of at least 2 mm as they are more durable.
  • By adding an adjustable fastener under your chin, you can avoid the risk of the hat falling off when you move.
  • Never modify your hat.
  • Carefully inspect your hat before use to ensure there are no cracks or punctures as these cause the shell to lose resistance to the passage of electrical current.
  • If you repaint your hard hat, ensure that the paint used does NOT conduct electricity.
  • Never add a metallic logo or sticker on the hat.  If you are unsure if stickers contain metal, be safe and do not add them to the hat.
  • Ensure Winter head coverings do not include any metal accessories that could conduct electricity.

Online Training: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Certification

Our Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) online training and certification covers head protection guidelines in detail. Click the image below to learn more.