How long does a hard hat last?

 ...and other safety questions

Did you know there are 3x more fatal accidents in the construction industry than the average. We take a look at the numbers and try to answer some of the common questions about what you should wear in the building trade such as how long a hard hat should last.

Happily there has been a long term downward trend in the rate of fatal injury, and there is no doubt that the wearing of hi-vis clothing, hard hats and other safety clothing has been an important factor in this.

The latest annual injury and ill health statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that the construction sector continues to suffer significantly higher injury rates than other industries There were 64,000 non-fatal injuries to workers in 2016/17 with 13% of those being struck by a moving object. There were also 30 fatal injuries to workers in 2016/17 (RIDDOR) of whom 10% were struck by a moving vehicle which is 3 times the average of all industries.

The mantra of use your head and wear a hat is all very well but what is suitable head protection?

Good head protection should:

  • be in good condition so if it's damaged, throw it away & treat yourself to a new one!
  • fit the person wearing it and be worn properly, don't make a fashion statement be sensible
  • you must be able to wear hearing protectors as well (when needed)
  • only be obtained from a reputable supplier – there are lots of fake hard hats on the market

Are hard hats compulsory & how long do they last?

The rules are that if there is no risk of injury to the head, then hard hats are not required by law.  Realistically though on a construction site there will almost always be situations where a risk of head injury remains so it pays to be sensible.  If the helmet has been used regularly, then it should last at least 3 years from the date of issue.

When do I need PPE and when is workwear ok? What's the difference anyway?

Although workwear is a great option for a builder it only offers a basic level of protection which wouldn't be covered under Health & Safety EN regulations. There are specific regs which cover PPE, regulations such as EN471 / EN20471 are for high visibility clothing. Products which are covered by these regs tend to be made of a specially designed reflective material, and can include various clothing from work trousers to gloves.

What about footwear -is it okay to wear rigger boots on a construction site?

We often do what's easiest so rigger boots have become popular as they're quick to put on.  Experience is showing however that wearers of rigger boots are much more likely to suffer twisted or sprained ankle injuries. This is probably because rigger boots are a looser fit and so its harder to prevent the foot from twisting to the side on uneven ground. Some contractors already ban them on site.

Its all about having the right clothing for the job which is a common sense rule you'd apply to your work tools so why not clothing?

When must high-visibility clothing be worn?

Essentially if the job has a rule to wear it then that's what must happen. Hi-vis clothing should be worn in all construction locations where vehicles or plant are operating. This includes drivers including fork lift driver when they leave their vehicle. Sometimes its ok for a sleeveless top/hi vis waistcoat to be worn where as other roles such as directing lorries on site need a higher standard of high-visibility.

When selecting and using PPE:

  • Choose products which are CE marked in accordance with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 – we can advise you in branch on this
  • Choose equipment that fits and suits the job  – think about size and weight of the PPE.
  • If more than one item of PPE is worn at the same time, make sure they can be used together
  • Make sure you understand why its needed, doing so makes you more likely to wear it

A final piece of advice on PPE

  • There are no exceptions from wearing PPE if its required for those jobs that 'only take a few minutes'
Be safe be seen! Check out our branches for all the essentials in hi-vis and safety clothing.

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