Colour Coding of Safety Helmets on the Construction Site
Last week we took a look at the importance of wearing a hard hat on site and some do’s and don’ts when it comes to wearing a safety helmet. Anybody who works in the roofing industry here in the UK will have worn a hard hat at some point or another. Whether it’s to protect your head while you work or for occasional site visits, the hard hat is a symbol of the building industry. The hard hat (or safety helmet which is its correct name) is an essential piece of safety equipment in an industry where work can often be a high risk activity. Head injuries can happen as a result of falling object, striking fixed objects (like the unprotected ends of scaffolding poles) or when working in locations where headroom is restricted. Wearing a hard hat can reduce, or even prevent, the severity of a head injury.
Hard hats can boast an array of additional safety features such as:
- Ventilation holes or replaceable sweat bands
- A peak to prevent dazzling
- A removable visor
- A rain gutter
- A chinstrap or chin guard
- Integrated earmuffs to protect the hearing
- An alert system with a buzzer alarm – a proximity sensor mounted on the back of the helmet which uses GPS and RFID technology to prevent near misses between people and machinery.
Hard hats are made from hardened plastic and, as such, they have an expiry date because plastic deteriorates over time. This means that they will need to be replaced periodically so it’s important that you check the expiry date on any hard hat that you use. A hard hat’s service life starts when it is first used and that date should be recorded on the hat in indelible pen. The maximum time for replacing a hard hat is five years, but it should be checked regularly for signs of wear or damage. The hard hat suspension should be replaced on an annual basis – they’re widely available from work gear outlets.
Hard hats come in a range of colours, all of which are significant as it allows workers on site to identify who is who and what type of work they are undertaking.
YELLOW – these are the hard hats worn by labourers and earth moving personnel and these are the most common hard hats seen on a typical building site.
BLUE – these are used by technical professionals on site, electricians, plumbers and carpenters.
GREEN – these are generally used by Health and Safety or environmental personnel but are also used on some building sites for new workers who are on a probationary or trial period.
BROWN – these are worn by welders and other personnel involved in high heat applications.
GREY – this is the colour hat usually used by site visitors and sometimes worn by construction workers who have forgotten to bring their hard hat (though some sites keep a couple of special pink hats for this purpose, often a great way of reminding people to bring their hard hats to work with them).
WHITE – these hats are used by managers, foremen, supervisors and engineers who are on a construction site.
Although it may be tempting to personalise a hard hat, under no circumstances should paint be applied to this item of personal protective equipment – paint may chemically attack and damage the plastic, reducing the amount of protection provided.