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.

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, bracket, cabel brackets).

Requirements and Example Solutions

  • Workers must wear a protective helmet (hard hats) 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.

Potential Hazards

  • Head trauma from falling objects.
  • Bumping the head against fixed objects.
  • Electric shock and burns from contact with exposed electric conductors.

Note: Head protection that does not meet nationally recognized standards of construction (such as ANSI Z89.1) does not assure the user of protection from head injury hazards.

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]
  • Head protection which provides protection from electric shock and burns is also available. [ANSI Z89.1-1986]