Hard hats are a crucial part of your personal protective equipment and are responsible for protecting millions of people in hazardous workplaces each day. Whether you work on a construction site, in a warehouse, or in a mechanic’s garage, hard hats are a useful piece of PPE that are known to save lives.
One of the leading causes of workplace injury and fatality is head injury. Safety at work is incredibly important and, in the event that an accident should happen, it’s important to know that your head is protected. Therefore, looking after your hard hat should be your top priority.
How to tell if your hard hat is expired
Many things in life have expiration dates: food, drinks, even medicine. Your hard hat is no exception.
If you wear your hard hat after it has expired, it may not protect you in the way that it should. Even durable materials such as toughened plastic have a life expectancy, with exposure to water and sunlight and general wear and tear causing damage to the material.
Over time, this damage adds up and can weaken your hard har, compromising the integrity of the protective materials that keep your heads safe from injury.
The hard hat expiry date should be stamped into the material itself, or in the form of a sticker. But if the sticker has worn away, you can generally take the expiration day to be three years after the manufacture date.
If you work or manage a construction site, you may be aware that not all hard hats are worn immediately after they’re manufactured. Even if hard hats aren’t in use, time spent on suppliers’ shelves or in a storage cupboard causes decay. This means that time when hard hats have been purchased but aren’t in use by staff members is essential, wasted money.
Hard hat safety
As anyone who has worked on a site or any kind of environment where work takes place at height knows, the wearing of a hard hat is mandatory by law. While this law is almost universally adopted and enforced correctly, there are probably plenty of cases of employees wearing out of date hard hats.
According to the 1974 Health and Safety in the Workplace Act, your employer has a legal duty to provide you with the necessary safety equipment to carry out your work. The equipment that you use has to conform to an industry standard. If the personal protective equipment that you are using is not fit for purpose, then employees could be at risk, and the workplace is breaking the law.
Hard hat maintenance
In order to maintain your hard hat so that it works to its best ability, be sure to look after it properly. If your hard hat has taken a hard knock, it should be replaced straight away – the same goes for if it is cracked, or if the head strap is compromised.
Remember to include safety helmets in your PPE spot checks and make a note of when the helmets or hard hats were checked. If it’s hard to find an expiration date inside the helmet, then you should ask for it to be replaced.