When it comes to worksite safety, a carpentry contractor has a responsibility to take reasonable precautions and ensure the personal protection equipment is being used. The responsibility can be in the form of OSHA regulations. Or simply because it’s smart business to keep your site free of stoppages and your insurance company happy. One of the most common safety measures is a hard hat. While many of them look the same, all hard hats are not created equally. Here is an overview of the different types and classes.
The Law and the Standards
When we talk about the OSHA requirement, we’re specifically talking about OSHA 29 CFR 1910.135. Regarding impact, it states: “The employer shall ensure that each affected employee wears a protective helmet when working in areas where there is a potential for injury to the head from falling objects.” For electrical protection, it states: “The employer shall ensure that a protective helmet designed to reduce electrical shock hazard is worn by each such affected employee when near exposed electrical conductors which could contact the head.”
But who determines if a helmet meets the criteria? The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA). They are the two bodies that provide the standards and criteria.
There are two types of approved hard hats. Type 1 hard hats are designed to reduce the force of impact resulting from a blow only to the top of the head. This is typically protection from items dropped from a scaffolding or similar hazard. A Type 2 hard hat reduces force from an impact that is received from the top, side or off-center. These will typically have better suspension and foam on the inside.
When it comes to electrical protection, there are three classes of hard hats. The Class C (conductive) hard hat is not intended to provide protection against electrical conductors. These may even have vents in them or use conductive materials in them. These may be allowed by a carpentry contractor that is doing framing or roof trusses where electrical hazards aren’t a concern.
The Class G (general) hard hat does provide a measure of protection from electrical hazards up to 2,200 volts. It is important to note that the voltage protection is for the head only, not the wearer as a whole. Experienced contractors may remember these being called Class A hard hats in past years.
The Class E (electrical) hard hat is designed for workers who would have a higher risk of high voltage conductors. These hard hats, formerly called Class B, are rated up to 20,000 volts. As mentioned before, the rating is for the head, not for the user as a whole.
Which Hard Hat Do I Have?
All hard hats that meet the ANSI/ISEA standards have a label inside the shell. If your label is missing or no longer legible, consider replacing your hard hat with one you know is rated to protect you from the hazards you are likely to encounter on your worksite.
Keeping our workers safe is important to us at Waldron Carpentry. OSHA standards are the beginning, not the goal. We go above and beyond with ongoing safety training for our entire crew. We make sure our workers are properly equipped with not only the equipment needed to keep them safe but with the tools needed to complete your job safely, on time and in budget.
Waldron Carpentry does wood rough carpentry, exterior trim and siding, wood framing, custom roof trusses and finish carpentry. If you are a general contractor and you need a carpentry contractor you can rely on, we would love to hear about your project. Contact us at our website or call us at (239) 707-1770. We look forward to building a relationship with you.