Hard Hats vs. Helmets: It’s a no-brainer for Superior Paving Corp.

Contributed by Todd Atkins, Director of Safety, Superior Paving Corp.

Hard hats were first designed in the early 1900s and made of steamed canvas, glue, leather, and black paint. In the 1950s and 1960s, thermoplastics allowed the hard hat to be mass-produced inexpensively and introduced us to the hat most of us currently use today. The last significant modification to this hard hat was in 1982, with the addition of the ratchet suspension for easy sizing. Essentially, a vast majority of the construction industry is utilizing technology for head protection that is 60 years old.

The purpose of the hard hat is to provide head protection from falling objects. The current hard hat does an adequate job protecting workers from the initial contact of a falling object. The performance of these hats lessens after the initial strike as the hat often does not remain on the worker. Currently, technology has addressed this issue by providing a completely new style of head protection. The Safety Helmet delivers state of the art technology to protect construction workers from head injuries. Not only do these helmets provide initial strike protection, but they also remain on the worker after the initial strike, protecting them from injuries related to falls, rolling, or tumbling after initial contact. The only way head protection is effective is if it remains on the worker.

At Superior Paving Corp., we switched to this new safety helmet about three years ago. Our employees were very receptive to the change as they immediately recognized the helmet’s added safety benefit. This is not to say we did not receive any negative feedback. We heard comments like they are hot, they look funny, no brim, I don’t like the chin strap. We have managed to work through these minor issues with the helmet and are now on our way to solving our next safety challenge. Helmets vastly improved our overall safety program by drastically reducing our risk of head injuries. Safety is for life.