Apart from George Osborne (who only ever pretends to carry out building jobs) I am not sure I have ever met anyone who enjoys wearing a hard hat and I have to say that as you move away from the big sites it is still something of a rarity to see builders with hard hats, says Roger Bisby.
as you move away from the big sites it is still something of a rarity to see builders with hard hats.
There is something ironic about that because the people in most danger i.e. builders working on uncontrolled sites are the ones who need them most. I count myself among them but at least I always have one in the van and if I see a situation where there is any danger of falling objects I will wear it. The only problem is that you don’t always know when that might happen. I once had a brick hit me on the back of the head when I was bending forward. The brick had been put there by the decorators and it was holding a sheet of polythene over a wall. As I pulled it straight at the bottom it pulled the brick down at the top. It fell a distance of just five feet but it hit me like a well placed karate chop and it took days before I felt right again.
I also know a bloke named George, who was hit by a toppling Acrow. We have all had that experience where you release the load and realise a little too late that there is no good reason for the Acrow to remain upright. Gravity, is the watchword. It is always the corner of the plate that strikes you and in his case it had a devastating effect. George didn’t wear a hard hat, not ever, and he thought he would get away with it as he had always been lucky. We are all lucky until our luck runs out.
George never went back to work, I still see him shuffling about, he can’t now cross the road on his own. By the time his brain has worked out it is safe to cross another car has come along.
So the bottom line is that hard hats are good for you and they are also good for your family who don’t want the job of spoon-feeding you for the rest of your life.
hard hats are good for you and they are also good for your family who don’t want the job of spoon-feeding you for the rest of your life
If you accept that it is generally a good idea to wear a hard hat the next question is which hard hat do you wear? On a recent visit to Oxford based JSP, one of the worlds leading manufacturers of PPE, I was shown some serious test procedures that are carried out on hard hats. All their hats passed with flying colours but there are many hard hats out there that can’t survive these tests, some meet only the minimum requirements and others are counterfeits. The idea that there are people out there selling hard hats that don’t meet the standards shocked me. It means that workers are going through the hassle of remembering to wear a hard hat, but when it comes to the crunch they are being let down by crap. It is a bit like wearing a car seat belt that won’t survive a crash. I would like to tell you that looking for the JSP label is enough but sadly some of those people making sub standard hats are not above sticking a little JSP label on the back. It is a problem that JSP has sought to solve by giving every one of their hard hats a unique bar-code. If you type the bar-code number into the online registration page it will register your hat and confirm that it is genuine.
During my day at JSP I saw some surprising demonstrations of how a good hard hat can survive a two kilo lump hammer being dropped on it and just as importantly how the harness in the hat absorbs impact that might otherwise damage your neck. The other thing I discovered is that they put a lot of thought into ways of making their hard hats more comfortable to wear and if that makes people happier to wear them then that extra comfort can be seen as a major safety feature.