On the blog, we discuss the importance of safety standards and how to decipher if your safety helmet conforms to the recognised building site standard of EN397.
If you’re working at height, you need a height safety helmet.
But as an experienced professional, you already know that.
Operating on a construction or scaffolding site presents many risks, especially to our precious heads. The head is home to the most vital tool in our body – the brain. If we don’t look after that, well, the consequences are quite severe. It isn’t too difficult to fathom why it’s required by law that all workers are provided with (and wear) suitable head protection.
But what does suitable really mean?
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), suitable head protection should:
- Be in good condition (if there is any damage, the helmet should be discarded)
- Fit the person wearing it
- Be worn in the intended manner
- Allow the user to wear hearing protectors when needed
- Only be obtained from a reputable supplier (unfortunately fake height safety helmets can make their way onto the market)
On most sites in the UK it’s a mandatory requirement that height safety helmets meet the British Standard BS EN 397 or certainly the crucial elements of that standard. The EN standard of 12492 (mountaineering helmet) has gained popularity but if it’s the only standard on the helmet then it’s unlikely to cut the mustard with the Site Safety Officer.
EN 397 safety helmet standard – What is it?
The BS EN 397 standard outlines the physical and performance requirements for industrial safety helmets. The purpose is to ensure height safety helmets are specifically designed to protect the wearer from falling objects.
It is critical to protect wearers from such impacts so we are able to avert the potential of brain injuries and skull fractures, which can be life changing. The EN 397 standard also ensures protection against lateral deformation of the helmet, further mitigating the threat of dangerous head injuries. It comprises of both mandatory and optional requirements, including:
- Shock absorption (vertical)
- Penetration resistance (against sharp and pointed objects)
- Flame resistance
- Chin strap attachment: Chin strap releases at minimum 150N and maximum 250N
- Very low temperatures (-20°C or -30°C)
- Very high temperatures (+150°C)
- Electrical insulation (440V)
- Molten metal (MM)
- Lateral deformation
How to spot a fake – does your height safety helmet conform to EN 397?
As we suggested earlier, unfortunately there are height safety helmets available on the market purporting to be compliant with the relevant standards, but in reality, many are not. It’s important you know what to look out for so you can rest assured your height safety helmet will deliver the necessary protection. After all, we want to give our heads the best possible shield we can.
So, if your helmet has been successfully tested against the standardised procedures and achieved compliance with the relevant standards, such as EN 397, the product should be clearly marked with the CE mark and display the relevant EN code, as well as show the level or type of hazard against which the product is to be used.
It doesn't stop there either; all site helmets are part of PPE legislation that requires Notified Bodies to check them for compliance at the manufacturing stage. If they are compliant the Notified Body signs them off with conformity documentation, this should also be checked to make sure you have not bought a dodgy helmet.
Why do we think the BIGBEN Ultralite Height Safety Helmet has sold in such large quantities?
The BIGBEN height helmet is lightweight yet still incredibly strong. Importantly, it also complies with the EN 12492 and EN 397 for shock absorption and penetration. Giving the best of both worlds. As its both extremely comfortable to wear and has superior head protection, it’s used by a large cross section of customers, working at height or on the ground, offshore or onshore. It is not surprising it’s become the height safety helmet of choice.