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Hard hats: They save lives

Hard hats are kind of like seat belts for a lot of Santa Ana construction workers. Everyone knows they save lives, but they're not very comfortable, they don't look "cool," and sometimes workers don't feel like putting them on. However, every time you take your hard hat off on the job, you're risking life.

There's a reason why hard hats are a legal requirement at Santa Ana construction sites. Statistics from 2012 show that 65,000 on-the-job head injury cases required workers to spend time out of work. Also in 2012, 1,020 workers were killed as a result of on-the-job head wounds.

Here's what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires for hard hat safety. Hard hats must:

  • Resist objects that could pierce through them.
  • Absorb shock from an object that could fall on the head.
  • Be fire retardant.
  • Be resistant to water.
  • Incorporate an adjustable, snuggly fitting headband with straps that suspend the hat approximately 1 to 1¼ inches from the worker's head.
  • Be appropriate for the type of job the worker is performing.
  • Meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) requirements for the particular job.

OSHA also requires hard hat manufacturers to include labels in the hat shells that state the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) safety classification of the hat and its manufacturer.

If a worker fails to wear his or her hard hat on the job, there should be employment and disciplinary consequences. Employers who are lax with hard hat requirements, or don't provide their employees with appropriate head protection, could find themselves liable in the event that a serious accident and injuries occur. In addition, any worker who suffers a head injury on the job -- no matter the circumstances -- will likely be able to seek workers' compensation benefits to pay for his or her medical care.

Source: Safety and Health Magazine, "Hard hats: Know the facts," accessed Oct. 11, 2017

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