Personal Protective Equipment - How to Choose the Correct
By: The Working Man
The first requirement of head protection equipment is that
it fits properly. No matter how strong the material or how
well it meets the other requirements, if the hard hat or
helmet doesn't fit you properly it cannot work the way it is
designed to work to protect your head and it will probably
be uncomfortable to wear.
Most protective headgear is adjustable in one eighth inch
increments. Be sure that your head PPE, whether it is
provided by your employer or you purchase it for yourself,
is properly adjusted and carefully fitted to your head. As
an example: Hard hats should have a head band and straps
that suspend the hard hat a distance of from one to one and
one quarter inches (2.54 cm to 3.18 cm) away from the user's
head. Also be sure to check the suspension straps regularly
for signs of wear, tear or fraying.
A good fit will let the headgear stay on your head during
normal movement and still allow enough space between the
suspension system and the shell of the hat or helmet for
distribution of the force of an impact and for air
Some protective headgear is designed so that various
accessories can be attached according to your needs.
Accessories include slots for the addition of ear muffs,
mounts for safety glasses or face shields, headlamps, sun
shields, ear protection, radios and other electronics, and
even gutters for guiding rainwater away from your face. Of
course, accessories must not affect the equipment's primary
purpose of protecting your head from falling objects or
If your job assignment requires that you work at heights or
near the edges of pits so that others may be working below
you, your protective headgear should also have a chin strap
so that it cannot fall off and possibly injure someone below
when the hard hat or helmet is bumped or you bend over.
In the United States, the construction and use of protective
helmets must meet standards established by ANSI, and must
comply with ANSI Z89.1-1986.
Certain head protective gear (i.e. hard hats) falls into
different industrial classes. Class A. headgears are for
general service and provide good impact protection. Class B.
is for electrical work and not only provides impact
resistance but also resistance to shock and burns from
electricity or sparks. Class C. are designed mainly for
comfort and to avoid bumps and do not provide the protective
support of the Class A. or B. headgear.
If you look at the inside of your protective headgear you
should see a label showing the manufacturer's name, the ANSI
standard it meets, and its Class rating.
Back to Safety &
Safety Equipment for Working Men