Hard hats have protected millions of construction workers in New York and across the United States for nearly 100 years. These important pieces of safety equipment were first introduced after World War I, and they’ve saved thousands of lives since then. However, in recent years, the construction industry has been moving away from traditional hard hats and embracing sports-inspired helmets.
The push to improve hard hat designs
The first hard hats, which were replicas of early 20th-century U.S. Army helmets, were used to protect miners from falling debris while they worked underground. The hats then became required equipment for construction workers building the Golden Gate Bridge in the 1930s. The original design did a good job of protecting the top of a worker’s head, but it provided little protection for the sides and back of the head. It was also prone to falling off. While manufacturers have made a few improvements over the years, the same basic design has been widely used for decades.
A few years ago, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health announced that it would be reviewing hard hat designs to identify flaws and develop improvements. The effort is being funded by construction companies, hard hat manufacturers and workers’ compensation insurers. The results of the review have not yet been made public.
In the meantime, some manufacturers have started adapting various sports helmets for use by construction workers. These helmets provide better impact protection for the sides and back of a worker’s head. They also have chin straps to keep them firmly in place. Experts believe that these new designs will greatly reduce head injuries among construction workers.
Legal help for injured construction workers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 990 construction workers died from job-related brain injuries between 2011 and 2015. Workers who suffer construction site accident injuries have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits from their employer. An attorney may review a worker’s case and help prepare a claim on his or her behalf.