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Selecting a hard hat

There are a number of factors to consider when selecting a hard hat. (Image source: MSA Safety)


MSA Safety shares some advice for selecting the appropriate hard hat

When it comes to personal protective equipment (PPE), hard hats are sometimes seen as a box-ticking exercise. 

However, it is important to provide workers with appropriate PPE for their specific requirements. Effectively reviewing what additional helmet enhancements would help to protect the workers and improve their productivity could seriously up your PPE compliance on a day-to-day basis.

There are a lot of hard hat variances and configurations, and selecting the appropriate helmet is just the beginning when it comes to head protection. There are a wide range of accessories and branding options available, which allows a hard hat to be adapted to enhance functionality for a range of different scenarios.

Step 1: Choosing the appropriate helmet

Firstly, consider whether it is important that your safety helmet is CE-marked, and meets the standards required for your specific working environments.

Primarily, there are two key industry standards to be aware of:

#1 - EN 397: industrial safety helmets

EN 397 is concerned with ensuring protection against falling objects and the consequences thereof, such as brain damage and skull fracture. To achieve this certification, key performance requirements include adequate shock absorption, penetration resistance, flame resistance and chin strap anchorage (whereby the chin strap will release at a minimum of 150N and maximum of 250N).

#2 - EN 50365: electrically-insulated helmets

EN 50365 is concerned with ensuring protection against electric shocks and dangerous electric currents passing through the head. This is typically an additional standard required for safety helmets when working on low-voltage live electrical installations up to 1,000V A.C. Therefore, helmets in this bracket need to comply with both EN 397 and EN 50365.

Step 2: Appropriate accessories you might consider

Once you have considered your working environment, and acquired a helmet that will best meet those regulatory requirements, you can begin to optimise your PPE by applying accessories you deem appropriate.

Hard hats should not hinder, but help, workers by empowering them at work and allowing them to focus on the job at hand. To achieve this, MSA Safety aims to deliver hard hats that are comfortable to wear and complementary to specific jobs, whilst enhancing safety performance.

Accessories can help to achieve this, and can include sweatbands, offering an additional layer of comfort; winter liners, to help protect workers from the cold; eye and face protectors (when selecting a visor, consider whether it has anti-fog and anti-scratch coatings and whether it is suitable for use with or without spectacles); lamp brackets, for the attachment of hands-free lamps; chinstraps, for the enhancement of fit and comfort; and ear defenders, to protect again noise while still enabling face-to-face communication.

Step 3: Customising helmets with branding

While adding accessories can enhance functionality and safety on an individual level, other changes can also be made to enhance company-wide performance. Hard hats are often required in industrial settings where hundreds of workers may be operating.

In such scenarios, multiple sub-contractors are likely to be working in tandem, with each requiring specific hard hats with the right accessories. Electricians may need helmets compliant with EN 50365, while scaffolders may need EN 12492-certified models with four-point chinstraps for an improved fit.

To improve differentiation, hard hats can be customised with different colours and logos. Additionally, further customisation can be added to enhance visibility or promote safety practices on site.

Company branding can be added to helmets which enhances professionalism and can provide subtle branding and marketing opportunities. This can also serve to unify workforces and foster a greater sense of pride and belonging.

With all of this in mind, it’s easy to see the importance of selecting the appropriate hard hat for not only your job but the environment you work in. A hard hat which can then be upgraded with appropriate accessories and customisation can boost worker comfort and productivity.