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PPE Selection » Head Protection


Figure 1: Workers with appropriate head protection and suspension position
Figure 1: Workers with appropriate head protection and suspension position.

The OSHA Hierarchy of Controls
  1. Engineering Controls
  2. Administration Controls
  3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Head injuries may be caused by falling or flying objects, or by bumping the head against a fixed object. Protective helmets must do three things:
  • Resist penetration.
  • Absorb the shock of a blow.
  • Protect against electrical shock.
Head injuries may be prevented by the selection and use of appropriate head protection.










Use of Head Protection
Figure 2. Hard hat provides protection from falling objects
Figure 2. Hard hat provides protection from falling objects.
Potential Hazards:
  • Head trauma due to contact with falling objects
  • Electrical shock or burns due to contact with exposed electrical conductors
  • Various head and neck injuries due to the striking low overhead objects (for example piping, I-beams)
Requirements and Example Solutions:
  • Workers must wear a protective helmet (hard hat) when working in areas where  there is a potential for injury to the head from falling objects. [29 CFR 1915.155(a)(1)]
  • Workers must wear a protective helmet designed to reduce electrical shock hazards where there is potential for electric shock or burns. [29 CFR 1915.155(a)(2)]
  • Wearing a hard hat can reduce the impact from striking low overhead objects.
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Selection Criteria
Figure 3: Hard hat will prevent striking head on overhead objects
Figure 3: Hard hat will prevent striking head on overhead objects.
Potential Hazards:
  • Head trauma from falling objects
  • Bumping the head against fixed objects
  • Electric shock and burns from contact with exposed electric conductors
  • Head protection due to use of head protection that does not meet nationally recognized standards
Requirements and Example Solutions:
  • Protective helmets must comply with ANSI Z89.1. [29 CFR 1915.155(b)(1) and (b)(2)]
  • Hard hats are designed to provide protection from impact and penetration hazards caused by falling objects. Hard hats must be worn when working below other workers who are using tools and materials which could fall. [ANSI Z89.1-1986]
  • Hard hats are designed to provide protection from impact and penetration hazards caused by falling objects. Hard hats must be worn when working below other workers who are using tools and materials which could fall. [ANSI Z89.1-1986]
  • Head protection which provides protection from electric shock and burns is also available. [ANSI Z89.1-1986]
    • Class A helmets provide electrical protection from low-voltage conductors (less than 2,200 volts).
    • Class B helmets provide electrical protection from high voltage conductors (less than 20,000 volts).
    • Class C helmets provide only impact and penetration protection and since they are usually made of aluminum, which conducts electricity, that should not be used around electrical hazards.
  • Materials used in helmets must  be water-resistant and slow burning. [ANSI Z89.1-1986]
  • Each helmet must consist of a shell and suspension system (such as a head band). [ANSI Z89.1-1986]
  • Helmets must have suspension systems (such as head bands) that are adjustable to prevent the helmet from falling off the head.  [ANSI Z89.1-1986]
  • Suspension systems must be worn in the correct direction (for example an adjustment strap in the back of head). See Figure 1. [ANSI Z89.1-1986]
  • Helmets and suspension systems (such as head bands) should be inspected daily, maintained as necessary, and replaced promptly when damaged. [ANSI Z89.1-1986]
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