Protect your noggin, folks. Your brain is the most important organ in your entire body. For the 2.8 million people who suffer traumatic brain injuries each year, the damage can flip your life on its head–no pun intended.
The most common threat of TBI (traumatic brain injury) is in the workplace. Everyone from construction workers to oil rig extractors labor in dangerous conditions with lots of opportunities for head trauma. For this reason, head protection is non-negotiable.
Having the right personal protective equipment isn’t as much of a hassle as it might seem. With the right protective hard hats, you can find a comfortable solution that won’t kill your budget. Keep reading for a guide on protective helmets and more.
What Causes TBI?
Too many people fail to comprehend how life-threatening even a simple fall can be. The brain is a highly sensitive organ. It may have a thick skull to protect it, but the laws of physics force you to still be careful.
What tends to happen in a TBI results from the space between your brain and your skull. When you move too sharply–such as from a severe impact by falling object–your brain bounces around the inside of your skull. This induces trauma at the points of contact and deeper inside the brain matter.
Your neurons make up the entirety of who you are. Their tiny synapses are delicate, and a hard impact can disrupt or kill them. A minor disruption or death of a handful of brain cells can lead to life-changing consequences.
People with TBI often experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Passing out without warning
- Persistent migraine headaches that get worse without explanation
- Trouble sleeping or waking up from sleep
- Nausea or vomiting
- Seizures or convulsions
- Pupil dilation
- Clear fluid from the ears and nose that drains out
TBI, whether a simple concussion or serious brain trauma, is no laughing matter. You should seek medical aid if you notice the symptoms. Call a brain injury attorney if the injury was not your fault.
Let’s discuss how you can prevent them from happening.
What to Look for in Head Protection
Protective helmets come in all shapes and sizes, but you don’t want to grab the first one out of a construction surplus bin. Proper equipment inspection should reveal a high-quality head protection device. Let’s discuss just a few of the things you should look for in head protection.
Proper Personal Protective Equipment Certification
Headgear falls under the ANSI qualification standards. Your helmet should meet or exceed standard Z89.1-2009. If it does not, you are risking TBI.
Choosing the Right Classification of Hard Hats
Believe it or not, not all hard hats are the same. They each provide different levels of protection that are ideal for different situations. Here are some of the standards on the market:
- Type 1: helmets that only reduce impact from falling objects above–not from lateral impacts
- Type 2: helmets that reduce impact from all directions, such as hitting one’s head on a side beam
- Class G: hats with voltage protection up to 2200 V
- Class E: high-voltage protection for up to 20,000 V
Make sure to check the label within the shell to find the ANSI designation. Check with the manufacturer as well, since some manufacturers may not have any ANSI certification.
You can get away with a cheaper hat, but you may regret the lack of comfort. This is a hat that you may be wearing eight hours a day or more. It should be exceptionally comfortable, to the point that you forget it’s on your head.
Being stoic and powering through an uncomfortable hat will not be worth it. Tight straps and constant pressure will give you terrible headaches.
In certain situations, you may have an uncommon head shape. Your head may be larger than average, or even much smaller than average. Make sure you get a hat that fits your unique dimensions.
Tips for Wearing Head Protection
Once you have the right head protection, the way you use it will also influence how effective it is. Before you head off to work, keep these tips in mind.
Don Your Helmet before You Enter the Work Zone
It’s a common mistake for people to forget their helmets only once they are already in the work area. It’s imperative that you put on your helmet before you enter the zone. Better yet, put it on in your vehicle or the parking lot so you begin to form a habit.
Never Risk Going without Your Helmet
It may be tempting to take off your helmet for a brief spell out of convenience. For example, it’s a hot day and you want to give your head some circulation. You should not do this under any circumstances if you are in an active construction zone.
If you need to take your helmet off, do so in a safe place where there are no risks of falling or flying objects. Take refuge in a porta potty or your general manager’s office when you are on break.
Be Skeptical about Loaner Helmets
Say your helmet strap snaps while on the job. To avoid losing work, you might grab a helmet from the office to avoid hurting production goals. This can be a bad idea for several reasons.
First, the new helmet may not be a good fit and may not be the right type for your specialty–i.e. it lacks electrical protection. Second, it may not have the right ANSI certifications or may be used–perhaps a helmet that also suffered damage in the line of work. If you don’t have the right helmet, then refrain from working until you get one.
Take Care Of Head Protection Today
Head protection is a must for any industry where TBI is a potential risk. Make sure you choose the right ANSI certification and a helmet that is the right dimensions for your head. Ensure it is comfortable for long shifts.
Head protection isn’t the only thing you should be keeping in mind. Follow our blog for more essential articles on things you might not have known.