Product Focus: Head/Face Protection

Trends in ... head/face protection

Use and misuse

Ensuring workers’ heads and faces are protected from on-the-job hazards is critical. “Your ability to think, hear, see and eat are all right here,” said Mary Padron, marketing and communications specialist for Memphis-based Radians.

Here, head and face protection industry insiders explain what’s new in their field, what employers and workers get wrong, and how to fix it.


Keeping workers comfortable in personal protective equipment is a common goal of PPE manufacturers. However, that goal can become especially difficult when heat and humidity are involved. To help make wearing head and face PPE more manageable, manufacturers are adding vents to helmets, according to Ashley Gaworski, product line manager, Industrial HEFH for Cranberry Township, PA-based MSA. “The vents in the helmet are designed to improve air circulation and comfort for the worker,” Gaworski said. However, she cautioned that “these vents alone will not reduce heat stress but can contribute to the overall plan in addressing heat stress in the workplace.” She also said vented helmets should not be used when dielectric head protection is needed, as the open vents will remove the helmet’s ability to protect the worker.

Andy Olson, associate product director for St. Paul, MN-based Ergodyne, recommends bump caps for work that doesn’t require hard hats. Although bump caps are not a new product, hard hats “are often overkill for applications where ‘worker-generated’ impacts such as bumps, cuts or scrapes are more of a hazard than falling objects,” Olson said. He added that bump caps “look like stylish baseball caps, and are available in a variety of brim lengths and colors … some even feature built-in, hands-free LED workspace lighting.” However, be aware that bump caps are not ANSI-approved.

Preventing misuse

A worker’s faceshield has been bothering him, and he has a great idea for making it fit better. Hold up for a moment.

“The most common misuse is modification of the products themselves or how they’re worn that compromises the protection,” said Nick Bozzuto, product manager for respiratory protection, blast and coatings for Cynthiana, KY-based Bullard. “Gluing or riveting extra attachments/accessories not sold or tested by the manufacturer can create additional hazards and/or impair the effectiveness of the original design.” If you’d like to modify your PPE, Bozzuto recommends reaching out to the manufacturer.

Also, be sure protective equipment has been tested as a system, said Stacey Simmons, product manager for industrial head and face protection at Bullard. “Adding accessories that haven’t been tested with the hard hat and/or mixing and matching different manufacturers’ products could result in negating the original protective design.”

Matt Ernst, product manager for fire helmets at Bullard, points out that safety is everyone’s responsibility. “Manufacturers owe it to the workers to provide education on proper selection, care, and maintenance of helmets and PPE, and workers owe it to themselves to ensure that best practices are being followed,” he said.

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

Coming next month
PPE for female workers

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