Whether you work in construction, a warehouse or other potentially dangerous occupation, a hard hat can be an essential part of your work attire. This personal protective equipment is supposed to protect people against brain injuries. But, for the reasons we discuss below, they may not be enough to keep you safe.
They are outdated
As one recent NPR article states, traditional hard hats have largely used the same designs initially developed in the 1960s. They can protect workers from a hammer falling on their hand, but they have outdated technology that doesn’t provide adequate protection from other scenarios.
For instance, new designs are better at protecting people from concussions experienced by a glancing blow, which can cause a sudden rotation of the brain. Outdated helmets are not effective at protecting workers from impact at an angle.
Unfortunately, while new technology and better helmets are available, they are not widely used yet.
Workers don’t always wear them
Even though a hard hat does provide protection, people don’t always wear them.
- They could be impractical in some settings, like an office.
- Workers may be unable to perform other job duties with a hard hat on.
- Employers may not provide them.
- They may not fit well, causing pain or discomfort.
- Workers may get too hot with them on.
For all these reasons, people may not wear a hard hat, even if they are at risk of being struck in the head. Whether not wearing a hard hat is the result of decisions made by the employer, the worker or someone else, this equipment cannot work when people do not wear it.
Others fail to comply with safety procedures
Even if you wear a hard hat on the job, other hazards can put you at risk. For instance, a hard hat may not be enough to stop injuries caused by:
- Reckless operation of machinery
- Defective products
- Employers or managers who don’t follow or enforce safety procedures
- Explosions or fires
- Repetitive stress injuries
Under these circumstances, a hard hat may not be enough to keep you safe.
While hard hats cannot stop people from making reckless decisions or protect against every type of work accident, they remain a vital piece of equipment for people in many occupations. Wearing one – and wearing a well-designed one – can help you avoid a catastrophic brain injury.