To Helmet or Not to Helmet - That is The Question

Written by Michael Draper
- Expert Safety Consulting -
High Rise Work Helmet

Many companies are adopting the wearing of helmets while performing high rise work. Is this just an image thing? Does it make one safe? Is it OSHA required?

OSHA 1910.132(d)

The employer shall assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which necessitate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) If such hazards are present or likely to be present the employer shall:


Select, and have each affected employee use the types of PPE that will protect the affected employee from the hazards identified in the hazard assessment;

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While performing work at height there are hazards that the employer may over look:

  • Falling Objects. Often times high rise workers become staggered going down a building so that other workers are either above them or below. This creates a falling tool hazard. While tools are supposed to be tethered, they could break and cause injury to a person below if tool was to strike person in head. Also, never forget that in a main line severe whatever is above you is coming down on you. That could be many feet of rope or if a carabiner snapped there could be metal as well. Either situation one would want head protection on.
  • Wind. While window cleaners provide themselves stabilization on buildings, there are times specifically in descent mode that wind bursts could affect the cleaner blowing him away from the building. If that occurs, what goes out must come in and a potential impact to the head is a very real concern.
  • Rescue. While working at height it is an OSHA mandate that an emergency rescue plan be in place. Regardless of it being self or a pick the rescue is much easier with the person being conscious. He is better able to take voice commands and possibly even assist in his rescue.

Since these hazards are always present on high-rise jobs an employer should seriously consider these hazards and make appropriate PPE selections for their employees.

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