Head Protection laws & safety compliance analysis

Head Protection: What you need to know

29 CFR 1910.135

Head injuries can be very serious, so it is important that employees wear appropriate head protection in the workplace.

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Requirements. Under OSHA's head protection regulation, employers must require employees to wear a protective helmet in areas where they are at risk of falling objects injuring the head. Such situations include when employees are working below others working with tools or loose objects, or around or under conveyor belts or other machinery that may cause objects to dislodge and fall.

If employees are working near exposed electrical conductors that may contact the head, employers must require these individuals to wear a protective helmet that reduces the risk of electrical shock.

OSHA also suggests that employees wear protective helmets when facing the hazard of bumping their head, such as when working near exposed pipes.

To determine whether head protection is necessary, employers should evaluate the type of hazard faced by the employees. Employers must also pay for most PPE, with some exceptions. For information on properly assessing workplace hazards and employer payment provisions, see the PPE Regulatory Analysis section.

Criteria. OSHA mandates that protective helmets must satisfy the requirements of ANSI Z89.1-2009, or ANSI Z89.1-2003, or ANSI Z89.1-1997 (Protective Headwear for Industrial Workers), or the employer must show that the head protection is as effective as protection that complies with one of these standards.

Types of Protection. To be effective, head protection generally should:

  • Absorb the shock of a falling object
  • Prevent an object from penetrating it
  • Resist water
  • Burn slowly
  • Fit properly

Different types of helmets are appropriate, depending on how much protection is needed ...

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