Head Protection

Trends in ... head protection

Know the differences

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When it comes to head protection, experts Katie Mielcarek, Dennis Capizzi and Tim Gallant all agree on one thing: Know the difference between the products.

“When selecting head protection for their workers, employers should be careful not to make the mistake of assuming all helmets provide the same level of protection,” said Mielcarek, marketing manager at Gateway Safety Inc.

A common source of confusion?

“Type 1 vs. Type 2 vs. EN12492,” said Capizzi, segment marketing manager, protection products, MSA Safety. “Type 1 are designed to reduce force as a result of an impact to only the top of the head. Type 2 are designed to reduce force as a result of an impact to the front, back, sides and top of the head. EN12492 testing requirements provide a slightly larger top impact zone for mountaineering and climbing helmets.

“While EN12492 provides additional top impact protection compared to Type 1, the standard is not equivalent to Type 2. It does not provide the same lateral protection. This is critical to understand when implementing PPE.”

Added Gallant, product director at Ergodyne: “We field many questions about use cases for hard hats vs. safety helmets vs. bump caps. Hard hats and safety helmets overlap quite a bit, but bump caps are different altogether. There’s a tendency to think of them as a lighter weight and less protective hard hat, but, really, they’re focused on a different hazard entirely. Bump caps protect against worker-generated impacts (bumping your head in a tight space, for example) rather than object-generated (being struck by something). The direction, force and standards related to these impacts differ.”

Mielcarek recommends employers look for official ANSI Z89.1 testing markings on the helmet itself to ensure the product has been manufactured and tested to industry standards.

“Helmets should be clearly marked with the manufacturer, the date of manufacture, ANSI designation, the type and class designation, and the head size range,” she said.

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

Coming next month:

  • Foot protection
  • Safety tools/tethers/knives

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