Contract Surety

Time for An Upgrade: Headgear



The hard hat worn by construction workers has been a tradition for over 100 years, and came into use to provide protection from falling objects. These days, data points to the need for a shift to Type 11 head protection: workers are far more likely to need protection in the event of falls, slips and trips, then a shield from falling objects. 


360 Degree Protection

Owners and other leaders across the construction industry are seeing the need to shift to head gear that offers more protection than traditional helmets. Statistics compellingly illustrate that the primary safety hazard for construction workers is falls–not falling objects: 


Behind transportation incidents and COVID-19, falls represent the third deadliest risk in the construction industry. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 1,008 fatal falls were documented in the U.S. construction industry in 2020. This accounts for nearly 35% of all construction-related incidents. The numbers are no surprise, considering more than half of the construction workforce operates on scaffolds. Working at heights alone significantly increases the risk of falls and associated potential for traumatic brain injuries…..Nonetheless, industrial tradespeople have been wearing a traditional hard hat, the safety norm for more than the last 100 years, even though it can only protect from falling objects. With cases of incidents relating to falls, trips and slips greatly surpassing those from falling objects, it’s time for workers and safety directors to reconsider the personal protective equipment (PPE) mandated for the job.

The good news is that better headgear already exists: “An American National Standard for Industrial Head Protection (ANSI) Z89.1 Type II safety helmet can provide 360-degree head protection to defend against the many hazards on the jobsite.” Among the critical safety features of Type II helmets are:


  • Full brims and modular rear brims: Newer safety helmets now feature the traditional full-brim form factor that the industry knows and loves. Not only is it familiar, but it also provides better protection from outdoor conditions….
  • Impact protection: Type II helmets often incorporate advanced impact protection technologies across the entire helmet, including features like Koroyd’s welded-tube polymers. These polymer tubes are designed to crumple instantly upon impact, effectively absorbing maximum force. The mechanism provides comprehensive protection for the skull and brain, mitigating the risks associated with both direct and angled impacts….. 
  • Identification technology: Certain helmets feature embedded chips that use near-field communication (NFC) technology. These chips store essential emergency contacts and medical information, allowing swift access for first responders….
  • Four-point chin strap systems: …The presence of chin straps not only ensures a secure fit but also prevents the helmet from dislodging in the event of a fall, setting these apart from traditional strapless hard hats.


As construction company owners well know, investing in and maintaining a culture of workplace safety is never a one and done task, but appropriate gear sure goes a long way. These additional safety strategies are also worth reviewing, as is the U.S. Department of Labor’s Plan, Provide, Train initiative.


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