Skip to content

Swapping Hard Hats for Helmets

This fall, OSHA will start issuing inspectors and other field staff safety helmets instead of traditional hard hats. The decision came following a pilot program involving more than 100 employees.  Several large commercial contractors have already transitioned to helmet and in some cases, contractors with on-site safety mandates to wear helmets required OSHA inspectors to don them, instead of their OSHA-issued hard hats.  The primary difference between a helmet and a hard hat is that a helmet has a chin strap that prevents it from being knocked off during a fall while a hard hat typically does not.  That means a helmet can offer improved protection from falls. Helmets are also intended to absorb side impacts, while a hard hat offers protection primarily from objects dropping from above.

Per the Center for Construction Research and Training review of fatality data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistic, an average of 376 construction workers died annually from falls, slips, or trips between 2018 and 2020.  Head trauma was the most common fatal injury from falls, with 341 deaths in 2020 involving head injuries.