The hard hat has become an ever-present safety essential on building sites all over the world.
The hard hat has been responsible for saving countless thousands of lives over the years. It is now a legal requirement on sites in the UK, with its tough fibreglass or rigid plastic design keeping heads safe across the country.
Different coloured hard hats signify different things on site, letting workers know who is who and what their role is on the construction site.
Although this colour coding system differs from country to country and even within individual organisations, there are a few basic rules that can help you to identify workers from the colour of their hats.
In recent years the colour code has been:
White for managers, foremen, engineers or supervisors.
Green for safety inspectors, new workers on the site or probationary staff.
Yellow is the colour for general labourers and earth moving operators.
Brown hats are worn by welders and other workers with high heat applications.
Blue for Carpenters and other technical operators including electricians will normally wear blue hard hats, while orange is worn by road crews.
Grey is the colour often worn by site visitors. And if employees forget their hats or misplace them, there is often a nice bright pink helmet on site they have to wear in the meantime.
Hard Hat Colour Changes in 2017
From the start of 2017 The colour coding for hard hats will be changed on all Build UK member sites. This should instantly identify personnel by their safety qualifications.
From 2017 onwards:
White - Visitors
Black - Site supervisors
Orange - Slingers & Signallers
Blue - All other visitors
Site supervisors will wear black hard hats with slingers and signallers in orange, site managers in white and those on site who do not fall into those categories in blue. So your site visitors and other non-team members will be easily identifiable. Interestingly the traditional Yellow hard hat is missing from the list.
Trained first aiders and fire marshalls will also have stickers on their helmets.
The changes to the Safety Helmet colours and Training Standards have been developed in response to the Construction Leadership Council recommendation to specify and promote card schemes carrying the CSCS logo.
Build UK said the initiative would "help contractors to determine the competence of construction workers, along with their eligibility to work on-site. "
Julie White, Leader of the Training and Skills Leadership Group, said:
"Both the Safety Helmet Colours and Training Standards provide clear and practical help for everyone working on-site, showing that by improving our working relationships and using our collective voice, we can make a real difference to the industry".
Suzannah Nichol, Leader of Build UK, said:
"Health and safety is a goal for Build UK and we are delighted with the positive response from our members who have welcomed the latest criteria, which aims to make life easier and help them meet the increasing demands of working on-site."
When to Replace Hard Hats
Something to remember about hard hats is that they only hast for a limited amount of time. All hard hats have a best before date. Plastic deteriorates over time and therefore weakens.
Be sure to check for an embossed or printed best before date on your helmet. Some brands use a sticker that changes colour over time. This lets you know when it's time to replace your helmet.
Wearing or providing hats that are outside of this best before date is against UK law. This is something employers should be aware of, and act upon.
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Build UK Specifications PDF