The type of safety helmets worn on job sites is changing. Instead of the traditional construction hard hat, some construction workers are utilizing a helmet with a chin strap—like a mountain climber helmet. Outwardly, these safety helmets are sleeker, have less of a brim, and include a chin strap. On the inside, they have more padding and fit tighter to the head.
Why are we seeing more of these “new” (they’ve been around for a few years) helmets? To make a long story short, they offer more protection. Who hasn’t had their hard hat fall off when bending over or knocked off when hit in the head? Safety helmets, patterned after the helmets used by mountain climbers, rescuers, and cyclists, offer protection from exactly those things. The chin strap keeps the helmet in place and the tight fit with extra padding offers better impact protection.
Due to this extra protection, many larger general contractors and others are requiring safety helmets be worn on their job sites. These helmets make sense, so why isn't everyone switching to this injury-saving device? The quick answer—it’s the cost. Hard hats can be purchased for as low as $6. Entry-level safety helmets start around $60. And those who think wearing a hard hat with the brim forward isn’t cool, may feel the same way about safety helmets.
So, should your company switch to safety helmets? Unless a general contractor requires it, the answer is entirely up to you. Evaluate your job sites and employees and choose the head protection that works best. Whether you use a hard hat or safety helmet, make sure it meets the requirements of OSHA and complies with American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard Z89.1.