#4 Head Protection

Head protection is required for employees who are exposed to flying or falling objects or to electric shocks and burns. These employees must wear approved head protection. Hair must be confined if there is a risk of injury from entangling it in moving parts, combustibles, or toxic contaminants §3381(a).

Thousands of head injuries occur each year in the construction industry. This standard requires employees to wear hardhats to mitigate or lessen the effects of being struck by an object, accidentally striking their heads against an object or making contact with an energized electrical line. It needs to be emphasized that this standard is not just for employees that work at sites where there is a possibility of falling objects striking them in the head, i.e. workers on lower levels of a multi-story building project which are exposed to falling materials such as hand tool, bolts, nuts, etc. but it is also intended for employees who work in the vicinity of an operation or other workers that create the potential for objects to become accidentally airborne. These flying objects are sometimes the result of an unintended energy release while using power tools, pushing, pulling, or prying or almost any typical operation that is found on a construction site. These types of energy releases are common to almost all construction operations and are not predictable.

Almost all construction operations involve the potential of falling and flying objects, and therefore, employees must wear head protection. Additionally, many impact hazards exist; for instance, iron workers are constantly exposed to striking their heads on structural steel during erection, carpenters strike their heads on temporary framing lumber as they move through a building, etc. Employees that work in the vicinity of electrical conductors are exposed to potential shocks and burns to the head should they contact an uninsulated conductor.

The employer must determine which employees face possible head injuries and must wear appropriate head protection. OSHA has no exhaustive guidelines for determining when head protection must be worn. A case-by-case analysis must be performed by the employer.