Stick to safety when applying hard hat decals
Answered by Jeanette Gaunce, head and face protection product manager, Bullard, Cynthiana, KY.
Allowing the placement of stickers on hard hats is one of the most common questions workers and companies who want to personalize such equipment ask manufacturers. First and foremost, a hard hat acts as a piece of personal protective equipment for workers, but through customization it can serve other roles as well. It is common practice among workers in the field to use self-adhesive stickers to personalize their hard hats, or for other marking or identification purposes. Companies typically use stickers to achieve maximum worker visibility and increase company recognition through advertising on hard hats. They are, after all, one of the most recognizable pieces of safety equipment on any worksite.
In most cases, the effect of stickers on hard hats does not negatively affect the safety performance provided by the hard hat. There is very little potential for chemical interaction between the type of adhesive used in typical pressure-sensitive stickers and the helmet shell. Their use would not be expected to negatively affect the performance of the helmet under normal conditions.
However, the location and quantity of stickers applied may prevent workers from correctly inspecting their equipment. If one chooses to personalize a hard hat, the adhesive stickers should be placed at least three-quarters of an inch away from the edge of the helmet. The area of the helmet covered should be kept to a practical minimum to permit regular inspection of the helmet shell for signs of damage due to use or aging.
The helmet should be removed from service and replaced immediately if any surface cracks, however small, appear on the shell surface, whether or not they are in the vicinity of the stickers.
An alternative to stickers is pad printing, a process that allows logos to be printed directly on the hard hat. Such printing is permanent and, unlike decals or stickers, does not peel, crack or fade.
Another common practice is engraving identification data on the underside of the helmet's brim. This practice will not adversely affect the helmet's performance either. However, engraving must be restricted to the brim only. Otherwise it could cause the helmet to fail to provide the protection needed during an impact, which could result in injury or death.
Do not do any engraving or modification of the helmet shell material in the crown area above the intersection between the crown and brim, or in the vicinity of the suspension key sockets.
No matter what form of personalization is used, the best practice is always to use the helmet as it was received from the manufacturer, or to consult the manufacturer before making any product modifications.