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The Beginner’s Guide to Hard Hats

hard hats

Controlling workplace hazards at the source remains the ultimate goal for most business entities. From falling objects to chemicals, flying sparks, noise and sharp objects, it’s hard to predict the possibility of an injury occurring in a workplace. Similarly, it is hard to wish away the possibility of incidences despite numerous investments geared towards improving safety. For this reason, OSHA requires companies to equip workers against incidents that pose risks of injuries.

Appropriate safety practice and workplace controls may not offer sufficient cushion to the employees and hence the need for personal protective equipment. The level of protection varies with the degree of exposure and the kind of risk associated with the tasks. Falls and fires remain the most common hazards that keep safety officers working round the clock in the oil and gas sector. It explains why most companies have made massive investments in fire extinguishing equipment, smoke and flame detectors, gas monitors, work boots, and fire resistant clothing to minimize the impact of fire explosions on their staff and property.

While safety seems to fall towards blowouts and falls, the sector is still yet to eliminate injuries arising from falling objects, heavy loads, sharp objects, and falls at heights that are familiar with oil rigs. Often, working on an oil rig entails shifts of about 12 hours for 14 days where one is likely to succumb to fatigue. Climbing at the rigs is not only tiresome but also dangerous as one is likely to slip or fall objects to those working beneath, causing injuries. For this reason, hard hats come in handy for the workers as they lower the severity of incidences when accidents occur.

With numerous suppliers of hard hats and accessories in the market, oil and gas safety supply remain the ultimate dealer that guarantees quality and suitability. The firm offers a myriad of Hardhats used in drilling, refineries, and other subsectors with specific colors used for suit specific areas of operations. Working in poorly lit rigs may need workers to enhance their visibility through reflective hard hat tape rolls available in various colors. If you are looking forward to purchasing hats and accessories for your team, you need to factor the following:

Performance

Full protection against head injuries is a job best done by equipping the team with the right hard hats that meet industry requirements. The CSA and OSHA require strict adherence to the ANSI z89 and CSA Z94 requirements that outlines the safety features, comfort, functionality, and reliability of the caps. By industry standards, there are two types of caps classified based on the kind of protection they offer.

Type I hats offer aerial protection against the impacts on the crown while type II provide both lateral and aerial protection. The latter is larger, warmer, and harder hence providing better protection against falling objects and machine parts. Nevertheless, some working conditions require the lightweight type 2 hats owing to the environmental conditions. While security remains the fundamental consideration, one needs to examine the site and take the best that gives comfort all day. Some include the Hard Hat-MSA V-Gard, Moisture Wicking Sweat Beanie Hat, and MSA Skullgard-full brim.

Suspension features

When it comes to impact protection, the suspension of the hat forms the inner frame that spreads and absorbs the impact. The common standards come with four, six, and eight suspension points where the cap joins the inner framework. A Higher number of connections translates to even distribution of the impact and hence a lower amount of shock. Also higher number of suspension points increases comfort and stability as the cap feel lighter and flexible.

Other than the type of suspension, the size of the inner frame determines how best the cap fits the users, and the extent of change it can allow to suit varying conditions. In lieu with this, it needs to offer appropriate sizes and adjustability through ratchets, pins, sliding bands and tab locks present in MSA Skullgard Hardhat- Cap Style and Fas-Trac III Replacement Insert for MSA V-Gard Hard Hat. If the working conditions demand frequent resizing, consider highly adjustable caps that lower the operational difficulty and hence increase adoption.

Customization alternatives

In a market full of PPE suppliers, it seems convenient to get all that you need in a fraction of a day, or perhaps less. Most suppliers operate within the set regulations and hence most of their hats meet ANSI requirements. While that forms the basis, every company comes with specific requirements that need minor alterations. For instance, oil rigs with higher temperatures may require the Moisture Wicking Sweat Beanie Hat while the Cap style suits cold and warm conditions.

In addition to functionality, most firms consider using different color codes as a perfect way to denote ranks and experience. The company logos and signs go a long way in supporting the brand while creative graphics can signify personal interests. Customizing the hats does not mean you paint the surfaces as this increases the risk of chemical contamination. Paints are known to reduce the hats, dielectric resistance increasing the risk of electrocution while stickers and labels are likely to inhibit visual inspections.

Material

Talking of falling objects, you probably have to deal with different forms of falling objects that may need varying kinds of hats. While some may opt for a one-size fit all material for the workers, every article comes with a level of protection and comfort. Protection against flying items, bumped and impacts do not amount to uncomfortable working conditions. From fiber metal to the MSA skull guard, the level of the risk determines the type of material that makes the hats.

After careful selection of the material, you need to know the weight of the hat as it affects the comfort of the users. Heavy caps might seem great but are only suitable in areas where the risk of loose objects and slips is high. Lightweight hats offer better cushion and comfort in areas with minimal risk.

Working environment

The fact that oil companies operate in the same subsector does not mean they work in identical environmental conditions. The location of the oil rig and the type of extraction determines the type of weather conditions of the station. In fact, those working on offshore platforms face extreme conditions compared to their counterparts in the onshore rigs. For this reason, the working environment dictates the kind of protective gear inclusive of the hats to be used. Workers exposed to the freezing conditions of offshore rigs require those that offer adequate insulation and protection against falls.

In highly automated industries, it is hard to assume the electrical hazards that may arise from faulty connections and power overloads. Hard hats ought to give sufficient protection against burns, shocks, and electrocution. With two classes of Dielectric caps in the market, the level of risk determines whether one adopts Class G or E that gives protection against 2,200 volts and 20,000 volts respectively. In case you are facing zero risks, consider class C that offers zero protection against electrical hazards.

Physical condition

While almost all the hard hats come with the standard marks of quality, one cannot sit pretty and assume 100% perfection. ANSI requires buyers to inspect the hats and suspensions before use to avoid using cracked and faulty gear. Some could have succumbed to transit pressure and exposure to ultraviolet light, chemicals, and temperature hence degrading the shell’s ability to withstand pressure. Also, consider taking a few units to the crew and take their feedback after use as you observe the properties.

The suspension needs to be intact with no signs of frayed, torn, or cracked plastic elements. Consider testing the adjustable and the strength of the suspension to ensure it gives adequate comfort to the wearer. While ANSI does not provide the exact lifespan of the hard hats, experts recommend those with five years rated span and one year for the suspension.


Michael Snyder
Michael Snyder

Author