Hard Hats 101

Date: August 29, 2023

Nancy Rigby, BITCO Home Office Technical Specialist, Risk Control

How to Choose, Use, and Maintain Your Gear

Wearing a hard hat is a crucial aspect of personal protective equipment (PPE) designed to protect the head from potential injuries in hazardous workplaces. However, simply wearing a hard hat is not enough to ensure safety. Proper care, replacement, and use are all critical to maximizing the hat's effectiveness.

Hard Hat Care

Proper care of your hard hat will ensure it continues to provide you with the necessary protection. To properly care for your hard hat:

  • Regularly clean the hat to remove any oil, grease, chemicals, and sweat.
  • Clean the hat with mild soap and hot water – washing for 5-10 minutes. Rinse the hat with water and then let it air dry.
  • Always store your hard hat in a clean, dry location out of direct sunlight.
  • Paint, solvents, gasoline, chemicals, or harsh cleaning materials should never be used on the shell.

Hard Hat Replacement

Hard hats are designed to protect your head from falling debris, electrical hazards, and other potential dangers. Over time, the hats' ability to provide protection may diminish due to certain factors. Remember:

  • Before use, inspect the hard hat for visible signs of dents, cracks, gouges, penetration, chalking, loss of gloss, or other signs of damage. If any hairline cracks are visible, replace the hat.
  • If a hard hat is struck by a forceful object, dispose of it even if no damage is apparent.
  • The average service life of the suspension is one year. The shell should be replaced every 2-5 years, depending on the manufacturer's recommendations and use. Electricity, chemicals, or sunlight can deteriorate a shell sooner, even if there are no changes in colors or appearance.
  • Manufactured date codes can be found molded into the hat shell. The large arrow inside the circle points to the month, and the two digits inside that inner circle indicate the year.
  • Only use the suspension specific to the hard hat manufacturer. Never use substitutions.

Proper Use of Hard Hats

To prevent potential injuries, workers must understand the proper use of hard hats. To properly care for hard hats:

  • The suspension inside your hard hat should be adjusted so the hat sits comfortably but securely on your head.
  • Only wear hard hats backward if it's marked with a reverse donning arrow.
  • When wearing a hard hat backward, remove and turn the inside suspension around so the size adjustment ratchet is still in the back of the helmet.

Remember, wearing a hard hat can mean the difference between life and death in hazardous work environments. With proper care and use, workers can ensure their safety on the job. For more safety tips, contact your BITCO Risk Control Consultant. Click the button below to find a BITCO agent near you.

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For information purposes only. BITCO's blog content does not address all potential circumstances and is not a substitute for business, safety, or legal consultation.

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