Why Head Protection is so Important
Every part of the human body is vulnerable to injury or damage, and your head is no exception. Severe head injuries can lead to life-changing debilitations and, in extreme cases, can mean that you are no longer able to work. Head protection is particularly important for employees working in environments such as construction because of the increased risk of injury as a result of falls, accidents and handling heavy materials or machinery.
Types of head protection
On construction sites, head protection is worn as reinforcement against the dangers posed to workers from falling materials. Bump caps can protect the head against accidental knocks and scrapes. They feature a low dome-shaped design so that they can be used with other safety gear such as respiratory masks and goggles. To improve comfort, ventilation holes are built in, preventing heat build-up.
Hard hats offer simple yet effective protection. A built-in harness on the inside ensures a perfect fit as they are completely adjustable to different head sizes.
Accessories can be added to improve protection in different climates or for specific tasks. For example, noise-reducing ear muffs or protective visors can be added to some models, and longline balaclavas can protect workers in poor or extreme weather conditions.
Injuries at work
Wearing approved safety gear in line with legislation, combined with good practice on construction sites, has led to a downward trend in the number of injuries since 2001-2002. In fact, the number of those injured had reduced by 40 per cent in 2013-2014.
Unfortunately, head injuries remain prevalent during sports activities, which is why cyclists and professional sportspeople often wear head protection.
Overall, statistics show that acquired brain injury (ABI) in 2013-2014 increased by 5 per cent since 2005-2006 in terms of hospital admissions in the UK.
Legislation and your responsibilities
According to the Health and Safety Executive in the UK, hard hats remain vital in protecting construction workers from head injuries despite a number of amendments over the years. Employers must comply with the requirements of the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992. These have been revised so that they now cover the provision and use of head protection on construction sites and in other locations.
As an employer, you are responsible for providing appropriate protective clothing and equipment for your workforce and ensuring that your employees follow best practice guidelines. As an employee, you have a duty to yourself and your work colleagues to uphold best practice and follow the guidance set out by your employer to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
Never underestimate the importance of head protection. Remember that ABI, which appears to be on the increase, can cause disability and death. Make sure that you protect yourself, your colleagues and your employees and stay safe from head injuries.