Although the cranium is one of the hardest and most durable parts of the body, the rest of the head is very delicate. Brain damage can occur very easily, as can damage to the eyes, nose, ears and mouth. It’s important that workers in industrial setting protect their heads at all times, even when head injuries don’t appear to be a risk. Accidents can happen without warning, and it only takes a split second for someone to fall victim to a really nasty head injury.
There are several different kinds of head protection available, but the most common type in most industrial jobs is the hard hat. The earliest hard hats were developed by the ED Bullard Company, a manufacturer of mining equipment that operated out of California. These hats weren’t very hard compared to the kinds of head protection worn today. They were made primarily out of steamed canvas and glue, and although they offered some protection they were nowhere near as effective as what would come later.
Hard hats as they are known today were first worn in 1933 by construction workers on the Golden Gate Bridge, and by they 1940s they were required of construction workers. Throughout their history, hard hats have been made from aluminum, fiberglass, plastic and high-density polyethylene.
Image Source: © engelbert-strauss.co.uk/head-protector
Wearing a hard hat can protect a worker from suffering serious injury or even death. A modern hard hat contains a suspension that provides about an inch of space between the wearer’s head and the hard hat’s outer shell. This space acts as a shock absorber in the event of an impact. In fact, many would argue that this suspension is more important than the shell itself, although the shell obviously provides plenty of protection. A hard hat’s suspension can be adjusted in a number of ways. Some hats contain a ratchet suspension that can be tightened or loosened with the twist of a knob, while other hats have a pin-lock suspension that has a locking mechanism similar to a belt.
In addition to protecting the top of the head, hard hats are also built to be able to accommodate safety glasses, face masks and other devices that can protect the wearer’s face, eyes and ears.
As important as hard hats are for protecting workers from injury, there is a frighteningly large amount of noncompliance on American job sites when it comes to wearing hard hats. Nearly everyone agrees that professional athletes and soldiers should be wearing helmets, but when it comes to wearing protective gear on the job, many aren’t willing to follow the rules.
A construction site can be just as dangerous as a football field, perhaps even more so. Falling objects, splashed chemicals and other hazards have always been a part of the American industrial job site, and that will most likely never change. Wearing simple hard hats on construction jobs have saved countless lives, and they will continue to do so as long as people are willing to use them.