By Chris Tidy – HHAW Founder
Hard hat awareness week was born two years ago with its first planned week in June 2020.
Like so many other things that year, it took a back seat to the covid pandemic that had taken grip of the UK and Europe and plunged most of us into compulsory lockdown. The week was pushed back to September and proved to be quite successful with participants as far afield as Dubai and the USA, as well as plenty of activity in the UK and Europe. The 2021 event was even bigger and better, as industries got together for the cause making it a successful event although the covid effect was still apparent, and most industries focused on respiratory protection.
The event was originally designed to highlight the need for industrial workers to wear head protection. Through my own personal experience, I had seen time and time again instances where the worker had not worn their head protection or had worn it incorrectly. This was not the only issue, as workers did not realise their head protection had an expiry date, and they didn’t know that when it’s not being used, it needs to be kept in a safe cool place preferably.
Over a period of time other issues surfaced e.g. workers would mark their head protection with pen or stickers both of which could affect the crystalline structure of the head protection and may cause an issue with the integrity of the shell. One thing that stuck with me was the fact that workers and some companies would pay upward of £60 to £70 for a pair of branded safety boots, but when it came to protecting their head, they were against paying more than £6. Our heads contain our brain which powers the rest of our body and without that working properly (due to maybe a head injury) our life would not be the same.
The week was also designed to cover things like training and wear and care, but most of the initiatives were aimed at raising awareness of head injuries, and to try and get people to understand that if you damage your head the injury you sustain could be more devastating and have a profound effect on your life and of those around you.
During the week we work very closely with our partners and supporters to raise awareness of things like angled impacts which may result in a rotational injury. This is exceptionally important to know, as currently within the standard only linear impacts are addressed and only the crown of the helmet is tested against dropped objects. The week is also designed to raise awareness of concussion which can occur after an impact even if you are wearing your helmet. Concussion is only a symptom, and it is vitally important to seek medical advice if you are involved in an incident.
The event has primary partners comprising of Headway the brain injury charity in the UK as well as Arco Experts in Safety, the UK’s leading PPE supplier, and Mips. We welcome all participation from everyone that has a vested interest in protecting their head. Big or small, this is all about raising awareness of head injuries and the debilitating effects they can have on a person.
Research has shown that the Construction sector needs to better understand the risks around head injuries on worksites. Safety helmets and hard hats have been protecting people in one form or another for thousands of years. From their humble beginnings as battle armour in 2500BC, to today where their use is much more widespread, they have stood the test of time. This common PPE item offers far more than you realise in terms of protection so we will look at what hard hats offer in terms of protection, what materials are they made from, what standards are they tested to, and how those standards are changing, as well as educating us on real-life impact scenarios, rotational injuries and how they occur.
We need to really think about the head protection we are wearing and remember that the standard is the minimum requirement of protection levels. We should be going for gold when it comes to protecting our head. Education is also a key ingredient to enable us to understand head injuries more and I urge everyone to not only get involved, but also celebrate the existence of the humble hard hat.
Hard Hat Awareness Week 2022 will take place on the 13th-19th June. Get involved here.
Webinar: Understanding the risks around head injuries in construction – Hard hats and mishaps – Thursday 16th June 2.30pm BST
A new study conducted by Imperial College London at The HEAD Lab tells us how incidents occur generally and what happens when we fall. The study may help us to further understand the risks around head injuries in construction and their causes. The study concentrates on fall accidents from the same level and from height. Register here.