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#150353 03/02/05 10:43 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 257
The company that I work for is trying to enforce a rule saying that hard hats must be worn with the brim facing forward. They say that it is an OSHA reg. I am on the safety committee and I prefer wearing my brim to the front but some of my coworkers prefer it to the back. I have looked but cannot find an OSHA rule stating either way is right or wrong nor does the manufacture's instructions make mention of it.

Is there a right or wrong way?

Arc Flash PPE Clothing, LOTO & Insulated Tools
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 886
I have looked but cannot find an OSHA rule stating either way is right or wrong nor does the manufacture's instructions make mention of it.

Duhhh, which way do you think it's supposed to go? [Linked Image]

Last I looked they don't put instructions on shoes, pants and shirts either but most people get it right. [Linked Image]


[This message has been edited by hbiss (edited 03-03-2005).]

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,419
Likes: 3
I agree, there isn't anything in the OSHA Regulations as far as I can see regarding the correct way to wear a hard-hat.
The question has to be asked though, why on earth would you want to wear your hard hat backwards.
I mean, you wouldn't wear your overalls on backwards would you?. [Linked Image]
However, I'm assuming that the hat testing is done with the brim to the front of the head.
The question would then be, will the hard-hat perform differently with it being the other way around?.
There's always someone that has to be different.

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 135
Here is a visual that you guys would get a kick out of: I work at a hospital in NYC and we recently underwent a major renovation and had union sparkies doing the electrical work, one of the apprentices had his hard hat that was modified to be able to tell it apart from his co-workers, he drilled a hole in the top of it and put a 2" hex head bolt through the hole from the inside of the hat, with a nut threaded on to the bolt from the outside to secure his identification device, then I would guess as a shock absorber he screwed a wirenut on the end of the bolt that was showing past the nut. How about that for some properly trained personnel. I was just waiting for the OSHA guys that frequently visited the site to get a glimpse of that one or for somethign to fall on his head and see what kind of mark it owuld leave in his cranium. What is the point of wearing a hard hat that is going to kill you more efficiently than if something fell on your bare head?? Also to add he would wear it backwards so I guess the problem is 2-fold.

[This message has been edited by mkoloj (edited 03-03-2005).]

Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 119
master66... you are correct, there isn't an OSHA regulation that specifically addressses this issue.

But, as a compliance officer, I can tell you that Trumps "hit the nail on the head" (pun intended) with his comment:
I'm assuming that the hat testing is done with the brim to the front of the head.
That is exactly the point from an enforcement standpoint of this issue. ANSI Z89.1 standard essentially requires that the manufacturer test the hardhat in the manner it will be worn in the workplace. Most manufacturer's only submit their helmets to testing with the brim forward. However, having said that, a small handful do submit their equipment for testing from both directions.

A manufacturer must indicate in their instructions whether or not the helmet can be worn with the brim to the rear. If they do not have a specification for that in the instructions... you can not do it.

Just as an FYI, the employer would likely be in violation of one or more of the following OSHA standards if they are allowing employees to wear their helmets "backwards."

The employer shall instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to his work environment to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury.

Protective equipment, including personal protective equipment for eyes, face, head, and extremities, protective clothing, respiratory devices, and protective shields and barriers, shall be provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever it is necessary by reason of hazards of processes or environment, chemical hazards, radiological hazards, or mechanical irritants encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation or physical contact.

Helmets for the protection of employees against impact and penetration of falling and flying objects shall meet the specifications contained in American National Standards Institute, Z89.1-1969, Safety Requirements for Industrial Head Protection.

If you are interested in how OSHA actually enforces this issue, there are two "Letters of Interpretation" specificially on this question. You can read them on-line at: 65 66

[This message has been edited by safetygem (edited 03-03-2005).]

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,329
Cat Servant
All that info is appreciated, Safetygem, but...
I've read ALL of the ANSI helmet standards, and none of them have tests that would be affected in the least if the shell were reversed, or placed in any other orientation with the liner. Every impact test is from directly above the test "head." For anyone -including OSHA- to say otherwise is to adopt the attitude of "everything not specifically permitted is forbidden."

Then there is the matter of "is a hard hat required?" Or, would a 'bump cap' suffice? Or is the helmet simply a part of the uniform?

More important, we must ask if wearing the "hard hat" itself creates a hazard. For example....though there is no such requirement in the ANSI standard....almost all hard hats direct rainfall forward, over the bill. If you were working on an open panel, would you want the hat to direct stuff towards the panel? Are you working in a position where the brim blocks your vision? Does the brim interfere with the use of other safety gear?

What was raised- namely, the wearing of a reversed hard hat as a fashion statement- is properly a management issue, and not a safety one. Do you want to look profesional and competently serious- or do you want folks to treat you like an overaged delinquent?

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 257
Thank you for all of the great replies.

I went to the links that Safety gem provided and found them very informative.

It seemed that OSHA's position was that unless the manufacture specifically certifies that the hard hat will meet the ANSI standards when worn backwards, the brim must be in the front.

I then went to MSA's web site, the manufacture's web site of the hard hats that we wear. On the web site they had a list of FAQ's. One of the questions was, in fact, "Can I wear my V-Gard helmet backwards?". The answer was that the hard hats that we wear would meet the ANSI standard when worn either way.

The issue of how people percieve you or treat you when you wear your helmet backwards is, so far, a decision that would be left up to the individual.

Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 270
Wearing the hat backwards allows better vision of bump hazards. Luckily I don't work in a job where I have to wear a hard hat much. I must have had crunched the bones in the back of my neck at least 4 times before I finally learned not to trust my sense of clearance distance between the top of the hard hat and the duct work I tried to walk under! I never reported the incidents. Luckily, no long term effects..yet... But I wonder how many electricians have had neck problems because of the forward brim 'requirement'.

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,419
Likes: 3
Strange parallel guys,
I was working on a building site today installing a Temporary supply.
One of the Foreman Builders told one of the Apprentices under him to get his hard hat on around the right way.
He was told that he signed the Safety Agreement when he started employment with the said company, so he had to comply and that meant wearing PPE correctly.

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,329
Cat Servant
Actually, I've had trouble finding any 'reversed' hats in the Reno area....everyone's wearing hard hats that look like cowboy hats!

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