Head Protection: A deep dive in to standards and Certification

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As of 2023, ANSI Z89 is the main standard for industrial head protection, specifically for the US market. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) developed this standard to provide requirements for hard hats used in construction, mining, and other industrial settings. The standard classifies two types of helmet: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 hard hats are designed to protect workers from impacts to the top of the head and from objects that may fall from above and Type 2 provides additional side protection. They are the most commonly used hard hats in the construction industry and are required by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations for most construction work. Other safety standards are also popular in the construction industry such as OSHA’s 29 CFR 1926. However, a new standard is gaining popularity in the US which is the EN 12492. The question becomes, will this become the new standard for workers safety? In this blog we will deep dive to truly understand what the EN 12492 is, what the difference is with ANSI, and if it’s a standard that’s right for your job-site needs.

EN-12492: What Is It?

The European standard EN 12492 lays forth the specifications and testing procedures for climbing helmets. The purpose of the standard was to guarantee that mountaineering helmets offer sufficient protection against head injuries from falling objects, impacts with hard surfaces, and other risks to climbers and mountaineers. The specifications for the design, manufacture, composition, and functionality of mountaineering helmets are outlined in the EN 12492 standard. It also outlines the testing protocols and techniques that helmet manufacturers must adhere to in order to guarantee that their products fulfill standard standards. Mountaineering helmets must offer protection against penetration, shock absorption, and retention system strength in order to meet EN 12492. They also need to be made to be comfortable to wear and allow for sufficient ventilation.

ANSI Z89: What Is It?

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) created ANSI Z89, a standard that outlines the specifications for industrial head protection, such as hard helmets used in mining, construction, and other industrial environments. Under official designation, the standard is "ANSI/ISEA Z89.1-2014 (R2019): American National Standard for Industrial Head Protection." The design, functionality, testing, and certification of industrial head protection, including hard helmets, are governed by the ANSI Z89 standard. Two kinds of hard helmets are defined by the standard:

  • Type I hard hats: The purpose of type I hard helmets is to protect the wearer from blows to the top of the head, lateral impacts, and potential penetration by falling items.
  • Type II hard hats: They offer the same degree of protection as Type I hard hats, but they are made to withstand impacts to the top of the head as well as lateral impacts and penetration from objects that may fall from above.

The standard specifies the performance criteria that hard hats must meet, including impact resistance, penetration resistance, electrical insulation, and resistance to flame and heat. Hard hats must be tested and certified to meet the requirements of the ANSI Z89 standard before they can be sold and used in the workplace.

What Distinctions Exist Between EN-12492 And ANSI Z89?

Two distinct standards that establish specifications for helmets used for various purposes are ANSI Z89 and EN 12492. The American National Standards Institute created ANSI Z89, a standard that outlines the specifications for industrial head protection, such as hard helmets used in mining, construction, and other industrial situations. The standard outlines the requirements for helmet performance, including electrical insulation, penetration resistance, and impact resistance. The European standard EN 12492, on the other hand, outlines the specifications and testing procedures for mountaineering helmets. The goal of the standard is to guarantee that climbing helmets offer sufficient defense against various risks, including accidents with hard surfaces and falling objects. Although helmets are required by both standards, there are some significant distinctions between them. For instance, EN 12492 does not mandate that helmets offer protection against electrical risks, whereas ANSI Z89 does. In contrast, EN 12492 mandates that helmets have sufficient ventilation to avoid overheating during physical exertion, whereas ANSI Z89 does not specify any ventilation requirements. In conclusion, there are two distinct standards, ANSI Z89 and EN 12492, that provide the specifications for helmets used in various industries and for various uses. EN 12492 is the standard for climbing helmets, whereas ANSI Z89 is for industrial head protection. While the impact and penetration resistance of the two standards are somewhat similar, there are some distinctions in other performance factors.

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