How many times have you heard that question? I'd be a wealthy man if I had a dime for each time I had to explain the reasons to an individual or group. Though there have been times when the question was legitimate, the fact remains a hardhat is always best, even in the most benign situation.
If you look at the way OSHA perceives the need for head protection, it's very broad. If there is a chance of being struck by something, whether from above, behind, beside or in front of you, then you need to wear a hardhat. Unfortunately workers will generally want to take the hardhat off when there is no apparent risk in sight and quickly put it back on when the hazard appears. This routine would be acceptable if the individual worker actually exhibited the behavior every time. While it seems no time or space can even begin to address the behavioral aspects of workers, I will keep the focus on the facts of hardhats. Here are two things to remember:
- The human brain can sustain serious injury with only minor impact.
- There are numerous materials, tools, processes, equipment in every workplace that can cause a head injury.
The bottom line is hazard assessments should be done in every workplace and the appropriate personal protective equipment needs to be used when there is the slightest chance of a risk. If that sounds very simple, it's because it is very simple.
Further explanation comes not from the workplace but from a ski slope – a beginner’s slope. Read an article from the Workers’ Comp Insider blog regarding a recent celebrity death due to head injury and see if you’re not convinced.