The Dos and Don’ts When Choosing Head Protection

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently recommended Type 2 safety helmets Class E (electrical) as the preferred form of head protection for electrical workers. Image courtesy of Milwaukee Tool.

Safety helmets reduce the risk of traumatic brain injuries resulting from slips, trips or falls.

By Kyle Anderson, Contributor

The need for innovative head protection is as great as ever in the electrical industry. One of the greatest hazards the electrical workforce faces is the extraordinarily high risk of both fatal and nonfatal occupational traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

Research shows that in the U.S., work-related falls continue to stand as the primary cause of occupational TBI’s, constituting 64% of all reported cases. In 2022, there were 423 fatalities on jobsites caused by a slip, trip, or fall, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It is critical that electrical workers be equipped with state-of-the art head protection. Designed to provide better and more comprehensive impact protection, Type 2 safety helmets have become increasingly popular as technologies have evolved to ensure improved worker safety and productivity on the jobsite.

Recognizing their benefits, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently recommended Type 2 safety helmets Class E (electrical) as the preferred form of protection for electrical workers. A growing number of electrical companies have followed suit and are now requiring their workers to make the switch.

THE IMPROVED PROTECTION OF TYPE 2 SAFETY HELMETS

Electrical workers have traditionally worn Type 1 Class E head protection, as it provides top-of-the-head protection against objects or debris that fall from above. However, they are less effective at protecting the sides of the head against damage caused by a slip, trip or fall.  Research has also revealed that between the two options, Type 2 head protection is the most effective at reducing the occurrence and severity of work-related TBIs.

Compared to Type 1, Type 2 head protection is explicitly designed to provide a higher level of protection against TBIs and is compliant with national safety standards such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). This Type 2 standard rating indicates greater protection to the top and side of the user’s head.

SOME SAFETY HELMETS PROTECT AGAINST OBLIQUE IMPACTS

In addition to damage to the top and sides of the head, TBIs from slips, trips and falls can be caused by what’s called an “oblique impact.” A combination of both linear and rotational forces, oblique impacts require more advanced forms of protection than a hard hat or even a baseline safety helmet can provide. Some safety helmets incorporate new technologies designed to specifically protect against oblique impacts.

SAFETY HELMETS HAVE CHIN STRAPS

Another protective advantage of safety helmets is how well secured they are to the users’ head. Many safety helmets incorporate chin straps and suspension systems that ensure the helmet will remain securely in place in the event of a slip, trip, or fall. Akin to climbing helmets in this way, the secure design of safety helmets also allows for work at high heights, making them particularly compatible with the needs of electrical and other utility workers.

SAFETY HELMETS CAN BE ACCESSORIZED

Though some models allow for some personalization, most traditional hard hats are more limited in their personalization options. Some safety helmets are designed to allow users to mount various safety accessories depending on their needs, including face-shields, visors, hearing protection, head lamps and marker clips. Should the jobsite requirements shift, accessory replacement can be swiftly executed.

BOTTOM LINE

There is no higher priority than worker safety in the electrical industry. Additionally, the safety, health, and wellbeing of workers are essential to ensuring a project is executed efficiently, on-time, and within budget.

Electrical is a dynamic industry where workers are routinely exposed to hazards that put them at increased risk of injury and death. To mitigate these hazards, workers and electrical companies must embrace new technologies that provide enhanced protection on the jobsite.

The type 2 ANSI rating in combination with additional features like chin straps, advanced material liners, and other safety accessories make safety helmets the best option for electrical workers seeking improved protections against slips, trips, and falls on the jobsite. ESW

Kyle Anderson is the Sr. Manager of Product Marketing for PPE at Milwaukee Tool. The BOLT™ Safety Helmet with IMPACT ARMOR™ Liner by Milwaukee Tool provides the best oblique impact protection, even in comparison to competitive advanced safety helmets, based on impacts at a 45-degree angle at a speed of 6.5 m/s averaged across 16 testing locations around the full helmet circumference.  Learn more at https://www.milwaukeetool.com/Products/Safety-Solutions/Personal-Protective-Equipment/Head-Protection

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