All personnel are required to wear hard hats and head protection whenever entering a construction job site. The list of possible hazards in the field is long and can include falling tools, slippery surfaces, unsecured tools, and swinging electrical equipment. Appropriate head protection can minimize these hazards and should fit snugly on the employees heads. It is also important to inspect all safety equipment daily for signs of equipment deterioration which is common with normal extended use.

When using head protection consider these three key questions:

1. Is my head protection PPE being used as designed?
2. Where and how will I store my head protection PPE when offsite?
3. My PPE head protection should be considered my last line of defense, what hazards are on the job site and how can they be avoided?

Thinking about these questions at the beginning and end of the day can keep safety top of mind, and helps us not to lose focus on protecting our health in challenging conditions. Taking a proactive approach to headwear safety can help identify and avoid hazards before they become an issue. Finally a recent question was asked directly to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) dealing specifically with the combination of headwear and eyewear, how would you answer this one?

Question: Are safety glasses required to be worn beneath face shields?

Answer: Standard safety glasses are designed to protect against injuries associated with regular eye hazards such as flying or falling objects and particles, as well as some chemical and/or radiation hazards. However, in some work operations, the hazards present can also cause injury to our face. Examples of such activities include many grinding and deburring operations, working with molten metals (such as at furnaces and when torch-cutting), handling liquid or powdered chemicals that are corrosive to our skin, and welding operations that expose workers to ultraviolet radiation. In many of these cases, not only do we need to protect our eyes from injury, but also our faces. So workers performing such tasks must utilize approved face protection, such as a face shield or hood. However face shields are designed to provide secondary protection to the face, primary protection for the eyes can only be achieved with safety glasses or goggles. The take home message is face shields should be used in conjunction with safety glasses or goggles to provide optimal protection of the eyes and face.

For more information about PPE safety visit OSHA’s website that focuses specifically head protection, the criteria, and classes of hard hats that should be selected depending on the specific job environment.