Hard hats have long been a staple safety item for the construction industry. For years, builders and tradespeople have relied on traditional construction hard hats to keep them safe – but things are changing. Bloomberg BNA recently released a report highlighting an increased interest in new, high-tech construction safety gear. More construction companies are switching to helmets of a new design, reducing the risk of workplace injury. These helmets protect employees from dropped objects, flying debris, and offer protection from falls. These types of accidents are the chief causes of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) among construction employees.
A report based on government data uncovered over 2,200 cases of TBI among workers in the building and construction industries between 2003 and 2010. For every 100,000 construction employees, 2.6 would die from a workplace accident. Most injuries were a result of dropped items or materials. Workers aged 65 and above suffered the highest risk for injury. Employees in working in steel and iron reported a higher number of TBI cases.
The new construction helmets (called ‘headgear’ by the wearers) have an advanced design. The design includes suspension bands within in the helmet, creating about an inch of space between the wearer’s head and the hard surface. These features serve a dual purpose:
- Cushion the impact of a fall from a height
- Absorb the effect of any object that might hit or fall on the worker’s head.
Helmet weight is evenly distributed across the wearer’s head making the headgear more comfortable and offering more protection against impacts on the head.
According to the Bloomberg report, the inspiration for the design came from equipment used in mountain climbing. Mountain climbing is very dangerous, and climbers need serious protection. Their helmets offer protection against accidents, falling rocks, and long falls. Construction companies find this design translates very well for building industry safety.
The idea to equip builders and construction workers with better safety equipment is not new. Employee safety and protection is the priority of the National Institute for Occupational Safety (NIOSH) and has been since the 1970s. Since then, the NIOSH has conducted many studies on helmet safety. NIOSH engineer Christopher Pan noted in a report that safer helmets are a major concern for all building trades. Pan stated it was time safety features rooted in science, physics, and medicine influence helmet design. to the helmet. Pan’s concerns are for the employee, he believes construction workers have a right to safe equipment. He challenges regulators and safety advocates to demand the new headgear, forcing companies to follow suit.
The law is on the side of the employee. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates safety equipment enforcement. Construction sites are dangerous. Employees on the job site risk falling and flying objects, falls, impacts, burns and more. OSHA requires these employees wear safe and secure helmets for their protection. Their helmet MUST meet or surpass the standards set by the American National Criteria Institute.
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