PPE Safety: Hard Hats

Hard hats provide a shield for your scalp, face, neck, and shoulders against falling objects or dangerous liquids. When impacted, the suspension system inside your hat acts as a shock absorber. Some hats even serve as an insulator against electrical shocks. For these reasons, it's important to evaluate your hard hat (and all other PPE) to make sure it is in wearable condition before entering a lab or job site. Here are a few tips to ensure proper hard hat use:

• Do not leave your hard hat in direct sunlight or in a place with high temperatures, as this will weaken the plastic shell.
• Clean your hard hat with mild soap and water and avoid contact with chemicals, solvents, or gasoline.
• Never wear a cap or baseball hat under your hard hat or put anything in the space between the suspension and the shell.
• Do not puncture, modify, or engrave the shell or suspension of a hard hat.

An important element of hard hat safety is knowing when your hat needs to be replaced. Determining factors include:

• If there are visible dents, cracks, gouges, loss of gloss, or any other signs of damage that might reduce the degree of safety originally provided.
• If a hard hat has been struck by a forceful object, even if no damage is obvious.
• If the suspension inside of a hat is cracked, torn, or frayed. Suspension in hard hats that are used regularly should be replaced once a year.
• If a hard hat has been well-maintained, the shell of the hat should be replaced every 2-5 years depending on usage.

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