Hard Hat Basic Safety

The use of occupational helmets, commonly known as “hard hats”, protect workers from hazards such as being struck by falling objects or from striking the head against a fixed or protruding object. Hard hats also protect against other hazards such as inadvertent contact with electricity, exposure to UV, weather, and extremes of temperature. It is essential to always ensure that work being undertaken is compatible with the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Three types of hard hat for workplace use:

1. Industrial

2. High temperature
3. Bushfire fighting

Suitable for use
in construction,
factories and

Suitable for use
in processes
such as steel
and glass

Suitable for use
by emergency
personnel for
combating bush

Hard hats are made up of a hard outer shell designed to take the initial impact; and an inner harness designed to absorb and spread the loading from the shell to the skull. Hard hats are available in a number of styles.
• Peakless – allowing clear upward vision for the wearer.
• Peaked – providing shade for the eyes and some facial protection.
• Full brim – providing fuller protection from falling objects and UV as well as water shedding.
Hard hats may include features that enable the attachment of accessories for protection from other hazards. These could include face shields, respirators, hearing protection, and work lights/lamps. Consideration should also be given to the benefits or limitations of having ventilation openings and hi-viz colouring.

Wearing the Hard Hat:
  • The harness cradle of the hard hat must be adjusted to comfortably fit and make for full continuous contact with head.
  • For the harness cradle to properly distribute any impact loading there must be no interference between the harness and the head. Therefore, wearing clothing items between the harness and the head is generally not recommended; specifically, hoods, baseball caps, and thickly woven or heavily seamed beanies or balaclavas. Certain hairstyles, such as dreadlocks, may also compromise the performance of the harness.
Safety clothing distributors now offer seamless polypropylene (or similar) ‘beanies’ for protection from cold that do not interfere with the performance of the harness.
Some styles of harness are symmetrically designed and may be fitted in a back to front manner in the helmet shell to provide functional upward vision for the wearer. Care must be taken that this does not compromise the effectiveness of the hard hat.

Care and Maintenance of Hard Hats
  • When not in use, hard hats must be stored in a cool, dry environment away from direct sunlight, heavy or sharp objects and chemicals.
  • The shell of the hard hat can be weakened by exposure to paints, paint thinners, solvent based adhesives (stickers) and some cleaning agents and may also reduce electrical resistance. Consult the helmet manufacturer for information on the effects of these substances.
  • Paint and stickers can also hide shell deterioration signs; therefore limit use. 
  •  Ultra-violet radiation (UV) and extreme heat can reduce the strength of the hard hats therefore do not store in direct sunlight. UV damage can be identified when the hat loses its glossy finish and appears chalky and further degradation can cause the shell to flake. Once UV damage is found, the shell must be replaced.
  • Clean by scrubbing immersing in warm soapy water and rinsing in clear warm water.
  • Sweat bands must be regularly replaced as required for hygiene purposes.
  •  Unauthorised modifications to the shell and harness are not permitted under any circumstances.

Source: http://www.sitesafe.org.nz
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