Protecting your skull and brain from a devastating injury is the job of safety headgear. If you ever work on a job site that has falling debris, construction work happening, or deal with other types of heavy power tools; it's always a necessity to wear at least a hard hat.
If you wear a simple hard hat and you are struck by a falling hammer, it could be the difference between going to the hospital for a concussion or a crack in your skull or simply being shocked because you were hit on the head, and now you have to fill out paperwork.
But hard hats are not the only type of safety headgear available, and they are not suitable for certain environments. So, what safety headgear should you wear for the type of job you have?
Basically, there are three types of headgear: hard hats, safety helmets, and bump caps.
Where do work accidents happen most?
Every year, there are about 40,000 reported workplace injuries that cause a worker to stay home for at least one day in a single year. Surprisingly, most of these injuries are not at construction sites, although most people believe that construction sites are very dangerous. Because of the high regulations in both the private and public sectors of construction, employees are well-trained and will have the proper safety gear to prevent workplace injuries, even if there is an accident.
A good amount of workplace injuries happens in factories and manufacturing plants, as well as in warehouses and during the transportation of goods. All of these industries don't have strong safety regulations, and workers are not required to wear a hard hat in most jobs in these sectors. But if there were more regulations and they had to wear more safety gear, then they would be better protected from injury, physical pain, and job and wage loss.
What to know about hard hats?
The first thing you know about hard hats is that they are not designed to protect against every type of impact or injury that can take place around the head or skull. The main purpose of a hard hat is to prevent falling objects from damaging the head of the wearer.
So, if you wear a hard hat and a light or a hammer falls on your head, these incidents would be object-based impacts. These types of incidents are what hard hats are made to protect against. But object-based impacts are not the only type of impacts.
Another type of impact is known as a person-based impact or worker-related impact. This type of impact occurs when a person accidentally hurts themselves. In this case, hard hats may be able to provide some protection, but it's definitely not as effective as it would be if the incident was object-based.
What exactly is a hard hat?
A hard hat is typically made out of strong plastic or metal, and it will have some kind of suspension rig underneath the hat to lessen the impact between falling objects and your skull. As we stated above, they are used to protect against falling debris and objects. But they also provide protection if you are hit on the side of your head by a machine or a beam. If sparks start flying in the vicinity, your hair and skin will be protected from catching on fire or burning.
So, what would be the best safety gear for a person-based impact? That would be the bump cap.
What to know about the bump caps?
If hard hats are made for wide-open spaces and to protect from falling objects, then bump caps are made for small tight spaces. Bump caps are head safety gear designed to go directly over the head. They did not have side rims that jut out. These caps are perfect for workers who have to maneuver themselves inside a very tiny space, like a crawl space, think, covered, bottom basement, or in closed sewers.
Also, it's important to know that workers who work in tight spots and crawl spaces are far more likely to injure themselves through fast jerky movements or standing up too quickly than from things falling on them. This is another reason why a bump cap is much thinner and more rounded than a hard hat.
They're designed to protect the wearer from themselves. Self-injuries are another form of a work-related injury. If the wearer stands up too fast and hits their head on a pole or beam, the bump cap is designed to prevent a worse injury than a hard hat could ever protect against.
When you purchase a bump cap for yourself or your employees, there should be several characteristics to look for. They are a built-in flashlight, foam padding underneath the roof of the hat, regulated safety stickers stating the bump cap is resistant to both punctures and impacts, and proper ventilation, so your head does not become overly sweaty and hot.
Instant bump cap
If you have a cap that you love to wear, you can easily turn it into a bump cap. All you need to do is purchase a universal bump cap insert and place the inserts inside of your favorite hat. Bump cap inserts come in an array of different shapes and sizes, so you can definitely find one that fits underneath your favorite baseball cap.
What to know about safety helmets?
Safety helmets are a combination of a bump cap and a hard hat. Like the bump cap, it is tailored to the fit of a person's head. But like the hard hat, it is designed to protect against falling debris. Many safety helmets also have visors and heavy-duty eye shields. Those who work for utility companies, phone companies, as well as landscapers, and tree trimmers are known to wear safety helmets as part of their uniform.
Within every safety helmet is a suspension that least rises at least 1 inch above the top of a wearer's skull. This small gap between a person's skull and the actual roof of the helmet will protect the wearer from falling debris like wood and nails.
Since Hard Hats, Safety helmets, and bump caps are all designed for different work environments, they should not be used interchangeably. Each one has the environment they are designed for and using them in the wrong environment can result in some pretty nasty injuries.
Each of these safety headgear pieces is tested differently as well. Most countries have its own regulations for hard hats and safety helmets, but the whole world has only one regulation for the bump cap, and it is set by the European Standard.