Replacing Hard Hats with Safety Helmets

For 40-plus years the design of construction hard hats hasn’t changed much—a brimmed shell attached to a suspended, adjustable headband.

But that’s changing as designs, first used in mountain climbing and other sports helmets, are adapted for construction workers.

The introduction of the helmets—don’t call them hard hats—is driven by the belief that helmets provide better side impact protection than traditional hard hats and won’t tumble away if a worker falls, company safety officials told Bloomberg BNA.

“If you’re working on a ladder and fall, your head snaps backwards, your hard hat falls off,” Jason Timmerman, safety director for Skanska USA Commercial Development, said. Bureau of Labor Statistics said brain injuries led to the deaths of at least 992 construction workers from 2011 through 2015, although it isn’t clear how many of the fatalities started with a fall.

Bill Drexel, safety director for subcontractor Scaffold Resource in Lanham, Md., recalled workers so concerned their hard hats wouldn’t stay in place that they created their own chin straps to hold hard hats in place in case they fell.

While general contractor employees are predominately using the new helmets, safety managers said that eventually lead contractors or project owners could require subcontractors to use the new helmets or find an equivalent.

Read more about the origins of this idea, the "subcontractor mandate", and the adoption roadblocks in the original article:

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