Hard Hats and Safety Helmets – A Guide to Protection – Series 4

21. Juli 2020

In series 3 we spoke about accessories and what that means to you as a specifier or wearer. We highlighted what you will need to think about when adding accessories to your safety helmet or hard hat. In this series 4, Centurion Safety would like to discuss what you should wear and why.

Series 4: What to wear and why

All good safety helmets or hard hats are qualified to a recognised standard. The standard describes how they are tested and what areas of the helmet have been tested, for instance, the crown or sides of the helmet. Testing can also include chinstrap retention strength and breakage strain if a chinstrap is fitted. Centurion recognises that there is growing confusion over which standard someone should be wearing under different circumstances. For instance, should wearers working at height just add a chinstrap to an EN 397 rated helmet? What are the health and safety compliance issues surrounding dual rated chinstraps? As a company we would like to give you our view on this issue.

If you work solely on the ground, then an EN 397 helmet should be your primary choice, remembering though that this helmet does not have the extra impact protection so should not be used for working at height. This standard also has an optional chinstrap, so we recommend that you take advantage of this to ensure your head protection always stays on. If, however you work solely at height, then for the time being your choice should be an EN 12492 helmet. This is a recreational standard but currently there is nothing to replace it, so for now we recommend that you stick with this.
So, what if you want to work on the ground and at height? Then you should opt for the EN 12492 helmet which will give you protection on the ground and at height. However, you may also ask, about the strangulation risks from the chinstrap that is attached to an EN 12492 helmet or hard hat? The strangulation risk was based on compression of the airway at 15kg but what is the real risk of that occurring? Chris says ‘having studied this risk myself it is very low, so it’s a risk but a relatively small one compared to what could happen if your safety helmet or hard hat fell off during an incident!’ Do not get led into thinking that the helmet needs to be dual standard, remember this is not just about the helmet, it is about your risk assessment as well.

So, what does Centurion Safety Products think?

The age-old problem has always been the standard. Safety helmets and hard hats are manufactured to fit the standard not the wearer or specifier needs. Centurion Safety Products believe in performance requirements so much so that their safety helmets regularly exceed them by 50%. However, there are design restrictions in some standards that are not related necessarily to performance and so restrict the manufacturers from certain design elements.

Centurion Safety says ‘If you do not educate people on the standards and which one is suitable, then people are left with no choice but to make their decision minus the appropriate information’. The classic example of this is EN 12492 which is the mountaineering standard so therefore recreational but has been adopted by workers at height as there was nothing else suitable for them to wear. With all these things in mind, Centurion Safety Products are very proud to have Chris Tidy who is currently sitting on the CEN TC158/WG1 for the changes currently being made in EN 397. Chris says ‘When the new standard is released it will fit the requirements of specifiers and wearers globally’

If you would like further information on what helmet types and standards suit you then contact our expert.

Our next series covers accidents and statistics