Protecting Your Head
There are some practical reasons for wearing a hard hat. They help keep your head cooler in the summer; dry during rain; and helps to shield your ears from noise. However, the main and most obvious reason for wearing a hard hat is to protect your head.
The Purpose of Hard Hats
Hard hats can protect your head in a few different ways.
- Protects you from falling objects
- Helps protect your head in a fall
- Keeps your head safe if you bump into machinery, ductwork and the like
- Non-conductive hats protect you from electrical shocks and burns
In addition to safety, hard hats are a fun place to put stickers and decals that showcase your skills and certifications.
In order to get the best protection out of a hard hat, you must take care of it and pay attention to signs of wear or damage. Below are some best practices.
- Always keep your hard hat properly adjusted.
- Do not cut, bend or heat the hard hat.
- Frequently inspect your hat for deep gouges or cracks in the shell. If you see signs of wear or the color of the hard hat turns dull, it’s time for a new one.
Having a hard hat will not protect you unless you wear it correctly. Follow the guidelines below.
- Never wear your hat backwards.
- Do not put anything inside your hard hat other than your head. It is not a storage bin.
- Do not try to substitute it for a “bump cap”. The bump cap will not provide adequate protection from falling objects as it is not strong enough.
- It is not a stool or step; doing so weakens the shell of the hard hat.
You can’t protect your head without the proper wear and care of a hard hat.
Protecting Your Hearing
While October is Protect Your Hearing Month, there should be a year round emphasis on hearing protection, both on the job and at home.
20 million workers are subject to dangerous noise levels on the worksite. When not on the job, numerous everyday activities can harm hearing as well. These activities include listening to loud music with headphones, going hunting, attending concerts, using power tools, and more. Education on hearing protection is critical in order to protect yourself and others both on the job and off.
How We Hear
Sound frequencies travel through the ear canal to the eardrum. Once the noise reaches the eardrum, the membrane resonates, similar to a drum that has been hit. The noise transports through small, tender bones to the cochlea. In the cochlea are tiny hair cells that convert the noise frequencies as nerve impulses. Once these impulses reach the brain, we experience them as noise.
How Damage Occurs
The hair cells running along your cochlea are very tender and can be damaged easily. The most prominent form of ear damage is sound. Excessive noise levels kill off nerve cells so slowly that most people do not notice it is happening until it’s too late. The point? It’s critical to wear hearing protection correctly at all times when required or when you are engaging in activities that you know will have loud noises. That way you are not putting yourself at risk for damage.
Signs You Need Hearing Protection
- Struggling to hear someone talk that is 2 feet away or less
- A loud ringing in the ears
- Lessened hearing after leaving the worksite
Note: your ears do NOT gradually get acquainted with noise and do NOT develop natural protection against high decibel levels.
What is "Too Loud"?
A decibel (dBA) is a unit that measures the volume of noise and quantifies auditory limitation.
Example: the average quiet bedroom has about 20 dBA, while operating a power-saw has around 110 dBA.
In accordance with OSHA standards, hearing protection is required:
- If you are subject to sound levels over 85 dBA for 8 hours or more
- At all times when the decibel level reaches or exceeds 90 dBA
YOU CAN PRESERVE YOUR HEARING BY WEARING THE PROPER PROTECTION AT ALL TIMES WHEN REQUIRED.
Choosing the Right Hearing Protection for You
There are several different options when it comes to hearing protection. Knowing which type of protection is right for you and your environment is key to protecting your hearing. An article from the CDC explains the different types of hearing protection here.