OSHA Announces New Safety Protocols for Its Own Employees

 Posted on January 31,2024 in Workers' Compensation

Blog ImageThe U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently announced that it is updating its safety protocols for all agency employees who wear hard hats. Employees will be given safety helmets instead as part of their personal protective equipment (PPE). OSHA urges all employers with employees who use hard hats to take steps to replace them with safety helmets to provide workers with the protection they need. Any worker who has suffered an injury at work should speak to an Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer to find out what benefits they may be entitled to.

Safety Helmets vs. Hard Hats

Safety helmets and hard hats are essential pieces of personal protective equipment designed to protect the head from hazards in various work environments. While the terms are often used interchangeably, there are distinctions between safety helmets and hard hats regarding design, materials, and the level of protection they offer.

Hard hats, the more traditional of the two, are typically made of durable materials such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or fiberglass. They have a rigid outer shell that resists impact and penetration, protecting falling objects, electrical shocks, and other overhead hazards.

Hard hats often feature a suspension system inside, comprising a headband and straps, which help absorb and distribute impact energy, enhancing overall comfort and protection. However, hard hats only protect the top of the head. They do not protect the front, back, or sides of the head, especially in the case of falls.  

And falls are a significant hazard for workers, especially when it comes to preventing brain injuries. A study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that in a seven-year period, 25 percent of construction fatalities were due to fatal brain injuries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data reveals that between 2015 through 2019, more than 5,000 deaths in the construction industry were the result of falls.

Safety helmets are a more modern and advanced iteration of head protection. They are constructed with a reinforced outer shell made of materials like thermoplastic or composite, offering superior strength and impact resistance compared to traditional hard hats. Safety helmets often include additional features such as ventilation systems, adjustable chin straps, and compatibility with various accessories like face shields and earmuffs.

One significant difference lies in the level of impact protection they provide. While safety helmets and hard hats are designed to shield the head from falling objects, safety helmets generally offer higher impact resistance due to their advanced construction and materials. This makes safety helmets more suitable for industries where there is a higher risk of severe impacts, such as construction, mining, and heavy manufacturing. They are also designed with multiple standards in mind, including those related to electrical insulation. This makes them suitable for work environments where there is a risk of electric shock, as they provide an additional layer of protection against electrical conductivity.

Contact a Kane County Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to Find Out Your Legal Rights

If you have suffered a work injury due to lack of, or inadequate, PPE, contact an Aurora, IL workers’ comp attorney to ensure you receive the benefits you are legally entitled to. Call Kinnally Flaherty Krentz Loran Hodge & Masur P.C. at 630-907-0909to schedule a free consultation.

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