Industrial electricians can be wearing their hard hat for up to – or sometimes over – eight hours a day. Around 2,000 hours a year. That’s a lot of time. And during it all, its job is to protect our most important asset and greatest tool – the brain. A complex organ that controls thought, memory, emotion, touch, motor skills, vision, breathing, and every process that regulates our body. It’s a pretty tough and important job. That’s why, at MSA Safety, we see hard hats as much more than merely a protective shell. We see them as an electrician’s companion – your companion. One that’s with you throughout most of the working day, five days a week, 12 months a year. And one that might just be a lifesaver.
In this article we’ll walk you through a day in the life of an industrial electrician’s safety helmet. Why? Because we want to bring to life what hard hats withstand on a daily basis and reveal how quality head protection not only keeps electricians safe but contributes to increased confidence, wellbeing and greater productivity. It’s time to shine a light on your most important – yet lesser celebrated – companion.
9am: the workday begins
It may be the start of a long week, but your electrician’s helmet with an integrated visor needs to show up and set about its job: being ready to save your life. It’s an important job. You need to feel confident that your hard hat can withstand whatever’s thrown its way. So, what are the characteristics of a quality helmet and its integrated full-face shield that make it robust enough to do its job, day in, day out?
- A protective arc-flash resistant foam at the top of your face shield helps enhances the seal between shield and hard hat, enhancing your safety.
- An anti-scratch coating face shield – that’s also anti-fog – means your vision is unimpeded, regardless of whether the helmet has been dropped or knocked.
- A reusable storage bag means you can stow away your hard hat and keep it protected when not in use, helping it to stay at the top of its game. It can also help increase the service life of the hard hat, providing an added cost-effective bonus.
11:30am: almost lunchtime
By now you’ve been wearing your hard hat and visor almost continuously for two and a half hours. It’s almost lunchtime and you’ve had a busy morning installing a new electrical system. You’ve been on the move a lot, negotiating cramped spaces, ducking, crouching, working while looking up, and peering into tight spots. What’s more, it’s been a pretty complex and dangerous job that’s needed full focus.
With lesser quality head and face protection, you may be feeling pretty uncomfortable by now. You may feel that your helmet and visor aren’t quite balanced properly on your head. You may even feel a tension headache coming on. Or perhaps you’ve had difficult handling your visor while wearing gloves. The visor itself may be too dark, be of poor optical quality, or be fogging to a point that makes it difficult for you to clearly distinguish the colours of electrical wires.
Any discomfort or inconvenience – besides making you feel lousy – can impact your focus and overall safety. After all, any of the above issues could tempt you to raise your visor or take your helmet off – and that’s potentially incredibly dangerous.
You need to be able to concentrate fully on the job at hand rather than worrying about your helmet and visor. Especially considering the potentially fatal risks you face, like contact with electricity or arc-flash. Did you know that between 2015 and 2020 (according to Health and Safety Executive statistics) three per cent of all workers died from contact with electricity and 1,122 workers suffered injuries?
Let’s look at how premium head and face protection keeps you comfortable, safe and unencumbered while you work.
- A six-point ratchet textile suspension is a key component of the shock absorption performance of your helmet. It also contributes to your comfort, ensuring your hard hat remains secure on your head.
- An easy-to-operate ratchet allows you to adjust the helmet safely and comfortably to the shape of your head, even while wearing gloves. This minimises rattling and slippage, even when you’re working in tight spots and repeatedly looking up and down. A four-point textile chinstrap reinforces the retention of the helmet on your head.
- It can get pretty hot in industrial settings with lots of machinery, so a premium foam washable and replaceable sweatband (that covers a substantial part of your forehead) keeps you feeling fresh.
- Fortunately, your helmet works seamlessly with an integrated visor that can be pulled down and retracted in a reliable one-handed smooth movement (even with a gloved hand). Perfect for those times when you’ve stepped away from the job to consult blueprints. An integrated visor also means it’s always available when you need it. It can’t be lost or ‘forgotten’ and when it’s not needed, it’s protected within the shell of the helmet.
- Importantly, your helmet has an integrated light blue faceshield with an anti-fog and anti-scratch coating and the highest optical quality. It has a visible light transmittance ≥ 75 per cent and is certified according to GS-ET-29 Class 2 (7kA). It will protect you against many hazards, including impacts, chemical splash, UV radiation, molten metal projections and electric arc.
- A modern, dynamic design with a low-profile, sports-styled shell and integrated visor mechanism means also that you’re less likely to knock your head on obstacles around you. Working in tight spaces is no longer an issue. Your helmet looks pretty stylish, too, which doesn’t hurt!
1pm: lunchtime over, back to work
During your lunch break you’ve pored over the plan for this afternoon’s job while your hard hat takes a well-earned rest. You need to carry out routine maintenance on some equipment. Straightforward enough. But the machinery is located in a confined space which you’ll need to be lowered into. Even though you’re being lowered below ground, this is still classed as working at height and that poses some unique challenges. Moreover, in the confined space you’re entering there’s a risk of explosion. Multiple potential risks like this can make what should be a routine job fairly complex. But your hard hat and integrated visor are up to the task. Here’s how.
- You’ll need a full range of vision – up and down – while you’re lowered into the confined space. Good news: your helmet is smartly designed. The four-point chinstrap and six-point ratchet suspension design allows for better upward vision and provide a secure, comfortable fit, even when you’re looking up and down repeatedly.
- You’re entering an ATEX environment, so your hard hat is made from anti-static materials and is Electrostatic-Ineris certified. Plus, a seemingly small thing, but important to you, its integrated visor fits neatly over your corrective spectacles.
- The extended ear and neck flaps attached to your helmet help ensure you’re protected against arc flash up to 7kA when you’re actively working. And when you’re not, you can put them on stand-by on top of the helmet’s shell.
5:30pm: your working day’s done
It’s been a busy day and you’ll be glad to get home. Fortunately, thanks to your hard hat (which you’ve stowed away in its premium textile storage and transport bag), you’ll be getting home to your family safe and sound. It’s been a taxing day, but the comfort and functionality of your hard hat has allowed you to concentrate fully on the job at hand. No surprise for a safety helmet that’s been developed for, and with, electricians.
An important reminder
All hard hats, regardless of their quality, should be checked before and after each use. Workers should visually inspect the shell for breakage, cracks, crazing, discolouration, a chalky appearance, or any other anomalies. These conditions can indicate a loss of impact, penetration, and/or electrical resistance. The suspension should also be checked for loss of flexibility. Check for cracks, breaks, frayed straps, and damaged stitching. And you should always check that the chinstrap is in good condition and that the face shield isn’t cracked or blemished.
Your most important above-the-neck safety companion
So, there you go. Throughout the day your humble safety helmet with its integrated full-face shield and extended arc-flash ear and neck flaps has to been ready to protect you against a multitude of different – and potentially life-threatening – risks. And it needs to do all that while keeping you as comfortable as possible.
As we said in the beginning, a hard hat is more than the sum of its parts. It’s much more than a mere protective shell. It’s a companion and a potential lifesaver, so invest in the best. After all, it could be the difference between a worker returning home to their family at the end of a working day – or not.
Would you like to test this helmet in the field and compare it to the solution you’re using today? Click here to learn more.