PPE FAQ: head protection

PPE - October 20, 2013 - 0 comments

Head protection guidance from the JSP Knowledge Base.

I have just been told my helmet is out of date, why is that, I have only just started using it?

On a lot of sites it seems that the local Health and Safety Officers have set a 2 year time limit on helmets. A helmet can last longer than this but needs to be looked after, but if the site rules are 2 years then that is all you can get out of the helmet. The date is worked out from the date of manufacture that has to be shown on all helmets.

In the case of JSP helmets you will find this moulded under the peak. However, it is the condition of the helmet that is much more important than the age as far as providing safety is concerned. In use, head protection is generally treated with a lack of care, often being thrown or dropped, used as a receptacle for all manner of items, or carried on the rear window shelf of a vehicle. None of these actions are conducive to continued performance.

Users should regularly inspect both the helmet shell and its harness for signs of wear and tear. Deep abrasions or scuff marks to the helmet shell will require it to be replaced, likewise cracks or damage to the harness will require that item to be replaced. Based on this treatment it is unlikely that a helmet will be offering adequate protection five years after manufacture.

What is the shelf life of an industrial safety helmet?

If the helmets are stored in the boxes in which they were supplied and do not experience environmental extremes the shelf life of a helmet is not limited, but we would not expect a helmet to be in use more than five years after the date of manufacture. Storage conditions should be between 5°C and 50°C and relative humidity less than 75%.

How do you know that your helmets do what they are supposed to do?

When we design a new helmet, before it can be placed on the market it has to undergo type approval testing by an independent test house. These are called Notified Bodies and are approved by the Department of Trade and Industry under European Union guidelines.

JSP are then required to prepare a technical file for approval by the notified body which includes detail of how we will check the helmets. JSP has its own testing laboratory which has been approved by British Standards for the batch release testing of our products. Every batch of helmets that you receive will have been tested and inspected before you receive it.

Does the harness do anything except keep the helmet on the head?

Yes! The harness is an integral part of all helmets and works by stretching, which absorbs some of the energy of the impact. The harness also spreads the force of an impact evenly over the wearer’s head, minimising the risk of harm to the user. The harness has been designed to work in the helmet when fitted the correct way round. The harness should not be removed and refitted so that the helmet can be worn backwards.

I have just been reprimanded for wearing my helmet the wrong way round. Why is that a problem?

The helmet shell and harness have been designed to work together as a unit and with the helmet worn withthe peak facing forward. When the helmet is worn backwards, you will need to tilt it back on your head so that the adjustment strap is not across the eyes or the harness has to be taken out of the shell and put back in the wrong way round.

The helmet has not been designed to absorb impact when worn in this way. If something was to fall on your head, when the helmet is being worn this way, any injuries you receive are likely to be much more severe than would normally be the case.

How does a helmet protect me from falling objects?

The helmet works rather like the crumple zone on a car. The force of the impact will be largely absorbed by the helmet shell, with the harness also absorbing a large amount of the shock by stretching. The shell or harness may well crack, don’t worry they’re supposed to, this is one of the ways in which the impact energy is absorbed.

I have just tried to pull my chinstrap on and it has broken,what’s wrong with it?

The European Standard for helmets requires that the chinstrap will break if the helmet gets caught up in something. This is to make sure that you don’t get strangled or your neck stretched too much. As the neck is relatively fragile, particularly in tension, the breaking load is relatively low, about 15 – 25kg.

When you pull the elasticated chinstrap off your helmet and over your chin it is quite easy to exceed this load. If you frequently need to use a chinstrap, the Linesman type chinstrap that has a side release buckle may be more appropriate for you. A JSP chin strap may break in a different manner to another company’s and so you should only use a JSP chin strap on a JSP helmet.

I have just attended a Health and Safety course and been given a sticker to put on my helmet, but I have been told I can’t do this. What’s the truth?

The European Standard requires that we include with the helmet an instruction that states: “Do not apply paint, solvents or self-adhesive labels except in accordance with instructions from the helmet manufacturer”.

Suitability of a self-adhesive label can only be determined by carrying out tests over the expected life of a helmet and could therefore take several years. There are several adhesive types that we know are okay to use, if you call the Technical Helpline on 01993 826051, we can get you that information.

So could we use paint then?

Again, no. We know that the chemicals in the paint we use for our screen and tampo printing do not affect the helmet. We can’t say that for all the paints on the market. If you need logos applying to your helmet, please contact our Sales Office and ask about our Logo Express service.

I have been told by a member of my staff that its okay to wear baseball style bump caps in lieu of safety helmets, and they would prefer to wear them. Is this acceptable?

No they are made to two different standards and serve two different purposes. The HardCap A1+ is a bump cap that provides head protection to the A1 version of EN812. While it has been designed to offer all round protection, it is not designed to protect the wearer from falling masses. The industrial safety helmet provides head protection to EN397 and is designed to protect the wearer from falling masses.

Do you produce a retractable eyeshield for your helmets?

Yes, there are 2 types, the Retractaspec which can be fitted to the Invincible Mk1, 2 and 3 and the Sureslide® Retractaspec which can be fitted to the Invincible Mk7. It is made of polycarbonate and can be obtained in clear or anti glare. Retractaspec fits directly onto the helmet while the Sureslide® fits to the harness of the Mk7, both retract inside the shell when not in use.

Both types of Retractaspec meet the requirements of EN166.1.F (Low energy impact). In addition full faceshields can be fitted to the helmets if full face protection is required, best if you are working with liquid, such as when power washing. If working with dust, cutting concrete for instance, then goggles would be preferred.

I have bought one of your helmets, what accessories can I fit to it?

The following accessories can be fitted to JSP helmets. The Mk7 helmets take the Surefit™ contour range of ear defenders and visors. The Mk2/3 can be fitted the JSP Surefit™ Thruxton range which includes helmet mounted faceshields and helmet mounted ear defenders. There is also a range of protective capes which can protect the neck from liquid splash to molten metal splash.


PPE FAQ: Head protection

Information kindly provided with permission from JSP Knowledge Base – JSP

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