Article
Hard hats are a critical piece of safety equipment for those who work in construction. This is especially true for electrical pros, who use the helmets to protect themselves from both accidental impacts and contact with live wires. It’s important to remember, though, that a hard hat isn’t just a hat, it’s a system.

Hard Hat Safety is More Than Skin Deep

Chuck Ross
Hard hats are a critical piece of safety equipment for those who work in construction. This is especially true for electrical pros, who use the helmets to protect themselves from both accidental impacts and contact with live wires. It’s important to remember, though, that a hard hat isn’t just a hat, it’s a system. You might think everything under the outer shell is there to simply add some comfort, but the suspension – and even the sweatband – are also vital safety components. That means you need to pay attention to their condition and replace them when needed, likely several times over the life of the hat, itself.

Maintain your suspension
Certainly, suspensions make hard hats more comfortable to wear, but their real purpose is to absorb impacts from above and, depending on the hat’s design, the front, back and sides. That means that if you wait too long to replace a hat’s suspension you could be putting yourself at risk of a head injury.

“Suspensions should be replaced every 12 months, from the start of first use, regardless of frequency of use,” says Shantanu Deshpande, senior product manager for personal protective equipment with Klein Tools. He provides some important tips for signs a new suspension might be needed even sooner than a year. “For daily users or those who work in demanding environments, it is imperative to check frequently for wear, breaks, change in fit and discoloration. If any of these issues are seen, the suspension should be replaced completely, as none of the parts are serviceable.

Sweat it out
To understand how the sweatband plays a role in hard hat safety, remember that sweat is corrosive – over time, it can degrade the structural integrity of the shell, itself. Deshpande says sweatbands should be replaced every 2 months, based on regular washing during use, or even more frequently, based on personal preference or the environment in which you’re working.

“The sweatband should be considered an integral part of the suspension system, so its fit is of utmost importance,” Deshpande says. “Keep in mind, sweatbands directly contact the skin and are designed to wick away corrosive body sweat, so it is recommended to wash it frequently and replace it when tears, discoloration, fraying, poor fit, shape or change in thickness and other such issues are noticed.”
Photo courtesy of Klein Tools
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