Study finds lack of comfort is causing workers to shun hard hats

AN industry study has found that a lack of comfort as being the main obstacle in putting workers off regularly wearing safety helmets on site.

The ‘extensive’ survey, run by MSA Safety in conjunction with Skill Builder, explored the reasons why workers choose not to wear safety helmets and what they consider to be the most important features of the hard hat design.

Skill Builder said that, ‘worryingly’, almost half of those surveyed said that they never or rarely wear a hard hat. When asked what deterred them from wearing the piece of safety equipment, 26% cited comfort as the main reason, 10% said that hard hats leave them feeling too hot, and 6% said that they generally don’t fit properly. 18% of respondents went as far as to say that hard hats have stopped them from doing their job properly.

Only 17% said that they wear hard hats most of the time, 10% said they use them often, 19% said they never dawn the piece of safety equipment and 27% said they ‘rarely’ wear one.

Roger Bisby, of Skill Builder, said, “I’ve been in the building trade for a long time and heard these reasons for not wearing a hard hat – comfort, poor fit etc. – many, many times. Yes, all workers have a responsibility to look after themselves, but hard hat manufacturers also owe it to workers to provide a hard hat that they’ll be happy to wear for up to eight hours a day, five days a week. It’s heartening to see MSA not only manufacture more functional, comfortable hard hats, but encouraging others to follow suit.”

Mackenzie Peters, MSA Safety’s global product manager, added, “To a large extent, unfortunately, these figures aren’t surprising. It’s a sad fact that many workers are not wearing essential hard hats because they’re uncomfortable, bulky and ill-fitting. All of which hinders a worker’s ability to do their job properly and contributes to them spending more time worrying about their hard hat than the job at hand, which is dangerous in its own right.

“It’s our responsibility, as an industry, to buck this trend. Yes, of course, hard hats need to be safe, but the safest hard hat is one a worker will actually want to wear. That’s why comfort and a good fit should be integral to any quality hard hat.

“Providing workers with helmets they can be proud of is so important. When management provides its workforce with high quality, comfortable hard hats with a low-profile, modern design it represents a certain level of investment into them and their wellbeing. Customising hard hats with company logos can also help to foster a sense of pride and togetherness. And crucially, the better the hard hat is and the prouder a worker is to wear it, the more likely they are to not only wear it in the first place, but to also take good care of it.

“Heads come in all shapes and sizes. Workers need the ability to easily re-size hard hats to a secure fit that remains comfortable. Comfortable, well-fitted and well-ventilated (where compliant) safety helmets aren’t optional, they’re essential.”