A GUIDE TO HEADGEAR SAFETY STANDARDS
Did you know that safety headgears had to be certified for use in the workplace? With various criteria in place for all the hazards in different industries, it's important to find a helmet to suit your needs while adhering to the right safety standards in your region. If you're confused about all the different safety standards, fret not, because we’re here to simplify it all so you can focus on staying safe.
USA - OSHA & ANSI Standards
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates specific requirements for head protection in the workplace. Regardless of the industry, it is deemed the employer’s job to ensure their workers wear head protection when exposed to any possible hazardous risks. OSHA incorporates standards from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in order to help employers follow the regulations. More about ANSI can be found in the following section.
OSHA has two standards that regulate safety helmet requirements:
- 29 CFR 1910.135: Safety helmet requirements for general industry workers
- 29 CFR 1926.100: Head protection requirements for construction, demolition, and renovation workers
Both standards require workers to wear safety helmets if they are at risk of being struck by falling objects, bumping their heads on fixed objects, and/or coming in contact with electrical hazards.
OSHA requires selection criteria for head protection that must comply with ANSI/ISEA Z89.1.
American National Standard for Industrial Head Protection (ANSI) helps employers abide by OSHA regulations. It was incorporated in OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.135 and by reference in 29 CFR 1910.6. The performance criteria for head protection is provided in ANSI Z89.1 and requires four performance tests that must be met in order to assign a safety helmet its type and class.
- Force Transmission: The hat must be able to withstand a weighted impactor from the top, front, back and sides.
- Apex Penetration: The hat must resist penetration at high and low temperatures.
- Flammability: The hat must be able to resist fire damage.
- Electrical Insulation: The hat must be able to withstand exposure to specific amounts of electrical power without catching fire and only allowing a marginable amount of electricity to pass through.
Safety helmet types: The two types of safety helmets under this classification system refer to impact/penetration protection:
- Type 1: Designed to reduce the force of impact resulting from a blow to the top of the head
- Type 2: Designed to reduce the force of impact resulting from a blow to the top, front, back, and sides of the head
Safety helmet classes: The different helmet classes are based on electrical-protective classifications:
- Class G – General helmet: Designed to reduce exposure to low voltage conductors, proof tested at 2200V
- Class E – Electrical helmet: Designed to reduce exposure to high voltage conductors, proof tested at 20,000V
- Class C – Conductive helmet: Not intended to provide protection against contact with electrical conductors
Operating temperature range:
- Basic temperature applications from -18°C to 49°C – No special marking on the helmet
- Low-temperature applications down to -30°C – Labeling on the helmet “LT”
- High-temperature applications up to 60°C – Labeling on the helmet “HT”
Additionally, all safety helmets must feature a hard-outer shell, a shock-absorbant lining and incorporate a headband with chin straps a minimum of 0.5” in width.
Do note all safety helmets that adhere to ANSI/ISEA standards should be permanently marked with the manufacturer, the date of manufacture, ANSI designation, the Type and Class designation, and the head size range on the inside of the helmet shell. If the information is unavailable or illegible, it is best recommended to change the helmet.
Europe - EN Standards
The European standard code of practice (EN 397) provides guidelines for manufacturers of safety helmets to ensure that minimum material grades are used. It also establishes the requirements for the testing of safety helmets and includes protection against lateral deformation of the helmet.
The helmet will comprise two main parts – the hard outer protective shell and the inner harness. All helmets certified according to EN 397 must meet these requirements:
- Shock absorption, vertical
- Penetration resistance (against sharp and pointed objects)
- Flame resistance
- Chin strap attachment: chin strap releases at minimum 150N (Newtons) and maximum 250N
Additional specifications are provided for ear muff attachment points and chin strap attachment points.
Standard covers insulating helmets aimed at use on low voltage installations. It must provide protection against electric shocks and prevention of dangerous electric currents passing through the head. Requirements include:
- All helmets must meet the requirements in accordance with EN 397
- Protection against alternating voltage of up to 1000 V (AC) or direct voltage up to 1500 V (DC)
- Insulating helmets must not contain any conductive parts
- Air vents (if available) must not allow any accidental contact with live parts
Standard covers high performance industrial helmets. These must provide protection against falling objects and lateral impact along with the resulting damage to the brain, skull, and neck. Requirements include:
- Shock absorption, vertical, and lateral
- Penetration resistance, vertical, and lateral
- Fastening system yield: Chin strap yields at minimum 150N and maximum 250 N
- Fastening system effectiveness: During the shock absorption and penetration test, the helmet must not become detached from the test head
- Flame resistance
Helmets for mountaineers must provide protection against hazards that may occur during activities undertaken by mountaineers. Requirements include:
- Shock absorption, vertical, frontal, lateral, dorsal
- Penetration resistance
- Carrier element (chin strap releases at min. 500N)
- Strength of carrier element: Chin strap may exhibit maximum elongation of 25mm
- Carrier element effectiveness: Helmet must not slide from the head
SS 98 Certification
It is important to note that in general, hard hats for use in Singapore must have the SS 98 or EN 397 certification so be sure to keep a lookout for the right helmet for those of you based in Singapore.
Click here for a range of hard hats that are certified for use in Singapore!