Maintenance of Hard Hats
Frequently we see clients give staff personal protective equipment, but provide no guidance on how to care for the equipment to ensure it continues to provide protection. In this article we look at some general Do’s and Don’ts for ensuring hard hats provide maximum protection for the maximum time.
First of all, let’s look at the components of a hard hat. There will be some minor variations however your hard hat will at least have a suspension harness and a means to adjust the headband. It may also have ventilation holes, ear muff and face shield adaptors. There are a variety of accessories you can purchase for hard hat use, such as cooling caps and protective caps for staff who have no hair on their heads.
The internal harness is removable to allow for washing and the sweat band can be replaced when required.
We will now look at some of the issues that need to be considered when planning to purchase and maintain hard hats.
When hard hats are issued for the first time it is frequently the first instinct to decorate the hat or mark it in a way that it is easy to identify in a sea of other people’s hard hats.
Hard hats are manufactured from plastic that can be damaged by solvents. Using solvent based markers or even stickers with solvent based adhesives can damage the structural integrity of the hat, causing weak spots on the hat over time. The retailer should be able to provide the user with non solvent based adhesive stickers for some personalisation or identification.
Aside from causing degradation of the plastic over time, sticker use should be discouraged as they may conceal damage to the plastic that would otherwise be identified.
Who reading this is guilty of leaving their hard hat in their car? I know I have and in fact I believe I have one in my car right now. AS/NZ 1800:1998 Occupational Protective Helmets Selection, Care and Use recommends that helmets should be replaced every three years from date of issue. However note the use of the word ‘recommend’. Hard hat replacement should be based on wear and tear, frequency of use, exposure to extremes of temperature and UV radiation. Leaving hard hats in vehicles reduces their life span, causing them to become chalky and brittle. Ideally staff should have a place near their workstation that they can leave their hat after work.
The hat itself should be kept clean of solvents and marks that may conceal damage. Washing with gentle soap and water will remove residues that can damage the hat.
The harness is what suspends the hat above the head, providing impact protection. AS/NZ 1800:1998 Occupational Protective Helmets Selection, Care and Use recommends that harnesses be replaced every two years. Harnesses may be removed from the hat for washing with gentle soap and cold water. Harnesses should be replaced every two years, depending on their condition.
As mentioned above, AS 1800:1998 recommends replacing hard hats every three years and harnesses every two. If the hat or harness shows signs of damage prior to its recommend discard date, replace immediately.
So there you have it. Don’t put solvents on the hard hat, keep clean with gentle soap, don’t store the hat in the sun, avoid extremes of temperature, wash the harness regularly and replace the entire unit when it shows signs of wear.
I’m off to inspect my hard hat.
Moore McPhee WHS Consultants specialise in the needs of small and medium businesses. We are here to help and can provide cost effective solutions for your business. Contact us on 1300 362 351, or speak directly to our Senior Principal Consultant Vanessa Moore on 0401 382 083 or at for a confidential discussion about your particular work health and safety needs.
Disclaimer: Any advice and information in this article is general in nature, does not take into account particular circumstances and should not be construed as professional advice. Unless specifically stated otherwise, the information in this article is prepared for South Australian Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking as defined in the SA Work Health and Safety Act 2012 only. The information may be applicable to other states of Australia that have adopted the harmonised work health and safety legislation but is not guaranteed.
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