Replacing Hard Hats with Safety Helmets

August 1, 2017
Purpose built headgear contributes to construction safety

While traditional style hard hats for construction workers are better than nothing, doesn't it make better sense to wear purpose-designed headgear that does a far better job of protecting the worker in a dangerous work environment?

The introduction of the helmets—don’t call them hard hats—is driven by the belief that helmets provide better side impact protection than traditional hard hats and won’t tumble away if a worker falls, construction safety officials told Bloomberg BNA.

The idea is to use the technology found in bicycling, mountain climbing and other sports helmets to protect construction workers using more than a tin hat with a chin strap.

Several large contractors are testing helmets manufactured by an Italian company, KASK spa, that meet ANSI Z89.1 consensus standards for construction headwear.  Skanska and Clark Construction are both assessing the use of Kask's Zenith helmets.

Construction helmets are coming to market from Kask and Petzl with features like side impact protection, center fit adjustments, visors and protective shields, and hearing protection.

Granted, the construction helmets are more expensive than the regular hard hats but Bill Drexel, safety director for subcontractor Scaffold Resource, requires workers to wear the helmets when they are working in jobs with fall potential. “We haven’t had a head injury since we switched to them,” Drexel said.

Read more about the new safety headgear in Bloomberg BNA's Occupational Safety & Health Reporter here.