Workers’ compensation benefits should be available to all employees who are injured on the job, regardless of whose negligence caused the accident. This includes your own negligence. While all construction workers should protect themselves by wearing a hard hat, failing to do so doesn’t mean you won’t be able to file a workers’ compensation claim.
Hard hats are one of the most important pieces of basic safety equipment for workers. Not only do they help protect against brain injury, but they also are required under the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). A good quality hard hat should meet the performance guidelines provided by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in American National Standard for Industrial Head Protection (discussed in more detail below).
What Constitutes a Quality Hard Hat
Twenty-nine Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.135 and 1926.100 reference the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) guidelines for head protection for American workers.
Grainger, a major national hard hat supplier, explains that “in addition to electrical protection, hard hats are also tested for impact and penetration resistance from blows to the top of the head, flammability resistance and water absorption.”
Construction workers should wear hard hats that meet national standards. A quality hard hat contains three basic parts:
- Shell – the shell is made of thermoplastic, and its main purpose is to protect against impact injuries;
- Suspension system – the suspension system attaches to the inside of the helmet and helps absorb the impact of any blows to the worker’s head; and
- Chin strap – the chin strap keeps the hat in place and secures the hat snugly against the head.
ANSI standards categorize hard hats into three types, according their purpose. Some are designed to reduce the force of impact of falling objects as well as to reduce the danger of electricity, while some protect the head but offer no electrical protection. It’s important to check the federal guidelines to be certain that workers are wearing appropriate hard hats.
Who must wear hard hats?
While there is no exhaustive list of who must wear hard hats on the job, 29 CFR 1910.135(a)(1) does explain that “each affected employee shall wear protective helmets when working in areas where there is a potential for injury to the head from falling objects.”
Lots of workers may fall into this category, including:
- construction workers;
- elevator mechanics;
- window washers;
- plumbers and pipe fitters;
- factory workers;
- general laborers;
- freight handlers;
- timber cutting and logging workers;
- stock handlers; and
- warehouse laborers.
Maintenance of Hard Hats
You’ll need to check your hard hat regularly for signs of wear and degradation. Inspect it for cracks, nicks, loss of pliability and any other damage that could reduce its efficacy.
For general maintenance, the USDA Forest Service recommends that workers should:
- rinse the shell thoroughly in warm water;
- scrub with mild detergent;
- wipe it clean and then inspect for any damage; and
- avoid storing the hat in direct sunlight.
Hard hats should be replaced every two to five years. If your job requires that you work in the sunlight, heat, cold or with chemicals, you may need to replace the hat more often.
Injured on the job in New York City? Our Work Injury Firm Can Help
If you or a loved one was recently injured in an accident on the job in New York City or the surrounding areas, we invite you to call our injury attorneys at Markhoff & Mittman for a free legal consultation. You may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.