Those who work in the construction industry know the importance of wearing hard hats on the job. They provide protection from penetration and impact injuries from flying or falling objects and even burns or electric shocks.
Even so, for one reason or another, some construction workers still don't wear hard hats at all times. Or maybe they do, but the ones that they wear are not up to code or have previously been damaged and are no longer safe.
Industry standards set
There are standards for head protection on industrial sites, such as those under the American National Standards Institute Z89.1-2009. It specifies that hard hats must be worn "wherever hazards to workers' heads exist."
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration prioritizes reducing the frequency of head injuries to workers. Safety programs for companies stress the requirement of workers to wear hard hats on every job site where they may potentially be hazards. Some companies go even beyond these standards to put additional regulations in place regarding the wearing of hard hats by their workers in the field.
The prevalence and causes of injuries
According to statistics provided by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics for a single year, out of over a million reported injuries in the United States, 80,910 were head injuries. Furthermore, one of the main causes of the head injuries themselves was worker noncompliance with minimum headgear standards.
Some workers are willfully non-compliant because they find them hot or uncomfortable, or the may simply not like the style or fit of the protective headgear. Some may wear their hard hats only when supervised or when obvious dangers exist.
Some workers may wear or are issued hard hats that have their safety features compromised from past accidents or wear and tear. All hard hats should have working suspensions and uncracked outer shells. Workers should not continue to work on job sites without wearing hard hats.
Repercussions of failing to wear hard hats
That split-second decision not to wear a hard hat can have life-altering consequences. If they survive their initial injuries, workers can be left paralyzed, have concussions and problems with concentration and memory. They may not be able to learn new tasks or make new memories. They could need life-long 24-hour care from relatives or other caregivers and have to relearn basic skills. It's a fate few want to contemplate.
Employers responsible for safe work sites
Wearing a hard hat isn't some magical talisman that wards off injuries. They can't protect all workers from all on-the-job injuries. Therefore, companies are obligated to ensure that work sites are safe and hazard-free for their workers.
Supervisors, managers or the designated safety man must evaluate and assess any hazards that could potentially harm workers, including the following:
- Fixed objects on which workers might bump their heads
- Objects located overhead that could fall onto workers' heads and upper bodies
- Electrical hazards
Dangers inherent to some industries
Despite workers being scrupulously careful, they may be injured by their coworkers' or companies' negligence. Dependent upon the severities of the injuries, workers may decide to seek legal action through the civil court system in order to receive financial compensation for their losses and damages.