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Safety Talk - Safety Helmet

Updated on August 6, 2013

All About Safety Helmets

This feature can be used as the basis of a Safety Toolbox Talk about Safety Helmets, head protection or other general safety awareness talk.

It is aimed at those working in industry that requires the wearing of hard hats and discusses the reasons for not wearing hard hats backwards and why items should not be stored inside a hard hat as well as general hard hat safety guidelines.

Where And When Are Hard Hats Required?

Many workplaces require the use of Hard Hats or Safety Helmets at all times when on site.

They should be used when there is a danger of falling objects striking somebody on the head or when somebody could hit their head against something.

Check local requirements for specific details or requirements.

When Can I Remove My Hard Hat?

There are times when a hard hat needs to be removed for a specific reason, below is a list of generally accepted conditions or removing a hard hat. Any other times when a hard hat is requested to be removed should be risk assessed to determine if the reasons are valid and if continued wearing of the hard hat poses a greater risk than removing it.

These are general guidelines, local rules and restrictions may be more prohibitive, please check locally before accepting these.

  • Hard hats may be removed BRIEFLY to wipe your brow.

  • You may also remove your hat when eating lunch or dinner in a designated eating area.

  • Operators of vehicles with cabs may remove their hard hat while inside the cab.

One regular problem is with site surveyors using surveying equipment and the brim on the hart hat gets in the way of using the equipment. This can be overcome by using brimless hard hats.

Can I Wear My Hard Hat Backwards?

In general, you must wear your hard hat so that the brim is facing forward

There may be some very limited activities requiring that the hard hat be worn backwards

To wear a hard hat backwards, you must follow these requirements:

  • specific job requires that the hard hat be worn backwards

  • suspension bracket must be reassembled so the "brow pad" remains in front

  • hard hat must sit straight on the head

  • hard hat must be made by a reputable manufacture that has designed the hat to allow it to be worn backwards, MSA are highly recommended.

  • hard hat must be returned to forward position when finished with the job.

Wearing a hard hat "backwards" significantly reduces your frontal protection and should only be allowed when absolutely necessary for the job.

Can I Store Items Such As Gloves Between The Suspension And Shell?


This space is needed when the suspension absorbs the energy of an impact. Objects stored in this space may transmit forces to the head and neck resulting in serious injury

What Else Should I Know To Help Me Wear My Hard Hat Properly?

  • Always use suspensions and hard hats made by the same manufacturer.

  • Make sure the suspension and hard hat are of the same size.

  • Your hard hat should fit securely on the head and headband must be adjusted to provide a snug fit.
  • Accessories can be used with Hard Hats but they must be compatible and ideally from the same manufacturer.

How Should I Take Care Of My Hard Hat?

  • Always inspect your hard hat shell and suspension before and after use. Look for:

    • breakage or cracks in the shell and suspension

    • brittle, discolored or "chalky" plastic

    • loss of suspension flexibility

    • frayed suspension straps or stitching

  • Never alter or modify your hard hat (ie: drilling holes in shell for ventilation). Such alterations and modifications may reduce the level of impact resistance provided.

  • Use only mild soap and water to clean your hard hat. Solvents and other chemicals such as gasoline, MEK or kerosene may damage the shell and suspension.

  • When damaged or subjected to impact, the hard hat suspension and shell must be replaced

  • A hard hat has a manufacture date stamp on the underside. This should be checked and the hard hat replaced after 3 years from the manufacturing date.

Don't be a Hard Head - Wear your Hard Hat!

When Should A Hard Hat Be Replaced?

Hard Hats don't last forever!

As a general rule hard hats should be replaced when they are 3 years old. The plastics that they are made from can be affected by UV radiation from sunlight, chemicals and impact damage. If the hard hat is showing any signs of these eg, color fading, cracking or staining, it should be replaced.

The age of your hard hat can usually be determined by the manufacturers date stamp inside the hat.

If you hard hat is involved in a major impact, it should be replaced whether there is any sign of damage or not.

Helmet Impact Demo - The video says it all!

This video is taken from Youtube and can be used in your safety talk if you wish it demonstrated the level of injury that can be incurred when not wearing a safety helmet and shows the same impacts when a safety helmet is worn.

Hard Hats for Ladies - A bit of Fashion as well as safety.

Hard Hats for Children - Protect those that are most precious.

If children are likely to be in an area where they are exposed to falling material hazards, they must be protected. This may be a plant or workplace tour or it could be a home construction project. Whichever, children are vulnerable to head injuries so make sure the small expense does not prevent them from being safe.

Do NOT think that an adult hard hat will be suitable for a child!

Hard Hat Accessories - Make your hard hat suit the job you are doing.

WARNING: Always ensure that safety items are fully compatible with each other. Idealy choose items from a single manufacturer that have been designed to work together.

About the Author

What makes me qualified to tell you about safety in the workplace?

I have been a Chartered Engineer for about 14 years and have over 20 years experience of working in a variety of industrial environments that have all included a range of high risk activities. These include Petrochem, Metal Manufacturing, Power Generation and Construction.

In that time I have promoted safe working to everybody.

For a number of years I was employed by a large American Corporation and was deemed to be the local Fall Prevention and Protection expert and introduced many new systems and methods of work.

I am now in a position where I would like to share some of the knowledge I have gained over the years.


The information in this lens is provided for information only and does not intend to replace any training that a user must receive. The author can accept no responsibility of any kind for any accident, injury, damage or loss resulting from a person or persons using this information.

This information must not be used to replace local standards, procedures and training.

Every job must be fully assessed for risk and method before any works are performed.

Leave your comments here for all to read.

Let me know what you think.

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    • profile image

      Peter Phoenix 

      4 years ago

      Do I have to share my hard hat

    • Gaby81 profile image


      5 years ago

      I am glad to see that people are concerned about Health and Safety at work. Good job.

      You may also check my lens

      I am doing my best to teach people the importance of Safety at workplace.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      People massively underestimate the importance of safety wear, we run a sheet metal fabricators in the UK and safety is paramount for our employees, boots, overalls, hats goggles the lot. Seeing our empty accident book each day makes us very happy.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice lens! Great info here. We always wear hard hats on the job, especially as we're in the roofing business for

    • mihgasper profile image

      Miha Gasper 

      6 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

      We should be careful when our heads are in question. Just look at my hat!


    • jadehorseshoe profile image


      6 years ago

      Encyclopedia of head protection. Cool!

    • plcmentor profile image


      6 years ago

      nice info on hard hats. Looks like it may be time to replace mine. I've seen guys wearing hats backwards, but I didnt know there were actually approved times they could do it. Thanks. You may find this interesting also:

    • Retro Loco profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      Terrific lens on safety helmets and the proper use of them. I might start a new job soon where I will be required to wear a safety helmet, steel toe boots and safety goggles. What a sight I am going to be -- all 5'2" of me!! I have always put safety first whether it's doing housework or using power tools. I know too many people who don't take safety precautions seriously. I used to work as a surgical technologist, so I have seen what the consequences are of not wearing the proper safety gear!! I like that pink hat, too, but I think I will stick with white or yellow so my male colleagues will take me seriously!!

    • UKGhostwriter profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent lens! - well done

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This is really a great lens about safty helmets. I have also same type of lens( provide bike accessories, gears and appeals. The Helmet Center is one of the fastest growing retailers. When you surf into The Helmet Center web site be sure you check their other merchandise out. Anything you want for you or your bike can be found there.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens. "Life's tough, get a helmet". haha. Someone had to say it! You know a helmet is a good idea, but it can't save you from everything.


    • aquariann profile image


      9 years ago

      Lots of great information for those that wear hard hats. I never knew they came in such fun designs.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Essential headgear on a building site! The shocking pink one would suit me;)


    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 

      9 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Fun and safe!

    • WhitU4ever profile image


      9 years ago

      I really like the cowboy hats... it would be nice to see cowgirl hardhats too!

    • AslanBooks profile image


      9 years ago

      Very informative...

    • The Homeopath profile image

      The Homeopath 

      9 years ago

      You've really covered the bases here. I like how you've included the cowboy hat styles, my husband and daughter both ride competitively and all riders are required to wear a hat, with competitors under 18 required to have a safety helment type. This means that most youngsters wear the English-style equestrian helments rather than Cowboy Hats, but I'm thinking about finding my daughter a saftey Western Hat for Christmas.

      Also, when we were having our house built, we always had to wear safety hats when we visited the site, we were able to bring our kids along if we put them in their bike safety helments. I guess that was OK here for the regulations. I never knew at the time that we could purchase kids' sized hard hats - how cool, my dad was in construction and I would have LOVED that as a kid (dad would just poke extra holes in the inside ring to make the big ones fit my sister and I, we felt like dorks).

    • dahlia369 profile image


      9 years ago

      Very useful protection/info and some of these hats are really different in design but - boy, am I glad I don't have to wear one... :)

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 

      9 years ago from Idaho

      Love those hardhats, and the heads they protect! :-)

    • LucyVet profile image


      9 years ago

      My husband would love the Gators hat! He doesn't work anywhere he needs one though. Marco, I can't imagine the cowboy ones in England either!

    • James20 profile image


      9 years ago

      A good lens, yes, the cowboy hats got to me too!

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 

      9 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      Good lens - I now know lots more about hard hats.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I'm all for health and safety

      good lens

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      A good informative safety lens.

    • MarcoG profile image


      9 years ago from Edinburgh

      Haha, the cowboy safety hats made me laugh...can't imagine them in the workplace in England though, unless the workers were at some sort of theme park lol :)


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