- Standard Number:
OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.
April 17, 2006
Mr. Mark Kasel
KBI NorCal Training and Safety Director
1855 1st Street
Dixon, CA 95620
Re: 29 CFR 1926.31 and 1926.100; wearing caps or other apparel under a hard hat for cold weather protection.
Dear Mr. Kasel:
This is in response to your fax submitted September 30, 2005, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We apologize for the delay in responding.
We have paraphrased your question as follows:
Question: Do OSHA requirements prohibit an employee from wearing a cap, scarf, or other item on his/her head, for purposes of cold weather protection, while wearing a hard hat?
Answer: Part 29 CFR 1926.100 provides:
§1926.100 Head protection.
(a) Employees working in areas where there is possible danger of head injury from impact, or from falling or flying objects, or from electrical shock and burns, shall be protected by protective helmets.
(b) Helmets for the protection of employees against impact and penetration of falling and flying objects shall meet the specifications contained in American National Standards Institute, Z89.1-1969, Safety Requirements for Industrial Head Protection.
(c) Helmets for the head protection of employees exposed to high voltage electrical shock and burns shall meet the specifications contained in American National Standards Institute, Z89.2-1971.
Part 29 CFR 1926.31 provides:
§1926.31 Incorporation by reference.
(a) The standards of agencies of the U.S. Government, and organizations which are not agencies of the U.S. Government which are incorporated by reference in this part, have the same force and effect as other standards in this part. Only the mandatory provisions (i.e., provisions containing the word "shall" or other mandatory language) of standards incorporated by reference are adopted as standards under the Occupational Safety and Health Act...
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Neither the regulatory text of §1926.100(b) and 1926.100(c) nor the ANSI standards they incorporate contain provisions specifically prohibiting the use of cold weather head garments under hard hats. However, ANSI Z89.1-1969 and Z89.2-1971 contain recommendations1 and a requirement regarding "winter liners," as follows:
ANSI Z89.1-1969 provides:
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5.4.2 Winter Liners. Winter liners should be made of fabric, plastic, or other suitable material. Colored materials shall be fast-dyed. The outer surface may be water resistant.
ANSI Z89.2-1971 provides:
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5.5.2 Winter Liners. Winter liners should be made of fabric, plastic, or other suitable material. Colored materials shall be fast-dyed. The outer surface may be water resistant. There shall be no metal parts in winter liners for use with Class B helmets.
Liners specifically designed for use with hard hats
The use of the terms "accessories" and "winter liners" indicate that these ANSI standards permit the use of cold weather liners that are specifically designed for use with hard hats — that is, specifically designed to be compatible with the protective properties of the helmets. Therefore, use of a "winter liner" specifically designed to be compatible with the hard hat's protective properties is not prohibited.
Garments not specifically designed for use with hard hats
In contrast, if the use of a garment were to detract from the hard hat's protective properties, it may no longer meet the specification requirements in these ANSI standards. If that were the case, its use would violate §1926.100.
It is unlikely that an employer would be able to determine whether a garment not specifically designed to be compatible with a hard hat's protective properties, in fact, compromised those properties. Consequently, as a practical matter, an employer typically would not be able to ascertain if its use violated §1926.100. Therefore, we recommend that employers permit only liners that are specifically designed to be compatible with the protective properties of the hard hat.2
Finally, your inquiry references the standards of ANSI Z98.1-2003. Please note that Z89.1-1969 and Z89.2-1971 are the ANSI standards incorporated in OSHA regulations. Based on OSHA's de minimis policy, where OSHA has adopted an earlier consensus standard, employers who are in compliance with the updated version will not be cited for a violation of the old version as long as the new one is at least equally protective.3
If you need any additional information, please contact us by fax at: U.S. Department of Labor, Directorate of Construction Office of Construction Standards and Guidance, (202) 693-2020. You may also contact us by mail at the above office, Room N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210, although there may be a delay in our receiving correspondence by mail.
Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction
1 Pursuant to 29 CFR 1926.31, "[o]nly the mandatory provisions (i.e., provisions containing the word "shall" or other mandatory language) of standards incorporated by reference are adopted as standards under the Occupational Safety and Health Act." Therefore, the "should" provisions in these ANSI standards are not OSHA requirements. [ back to text ]
2 We also recommend that the employer contact the hard hat manufacturer to determine if any type of liner or garment is compatible with the use of the hard hat. As you point out in your letter to us, Bullard, a hard hat manufacturer, states in its website that "hard hat users should never...wear anything inside a hard hat," as it may limit the necessary protective clearance between the hard hat shell and the wearer's head. [ back to text ]
3 Note that we made a similar statement in a February 28, 2001, letter to Mr. H. B. Bud Hayden, Jr. [ back to text ]