Enhancing Workplace Safety in the Construction Industry with Multi-Directional Head Protection Technology

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It’s no surprise that workers in the construction industry are at a high risk of accidents; the industry consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous in the U.S. The causes of workplace injuries have remained relatively unchanged over time, with slips, trips and falls accounting for a majority of workplace accidents. Yet new technologies have begun to emerge in recent years that are providing critical safety measures for workers. From wearable technology and sensors to smart helmets and helmet-based safety add-ons, there are several advancements working to provide a safer workplace.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires personal protective equipment (PPE) for eyes, face, head, and extremities, including protective clothing, respiratory protection devices and shields and barriers. Additionally, employees who are potentially exposed to the risk of head injury from impact, falling or flying objects, or electrical shock and burns, must wear head protection. While OSHA does have measures in place to ensure workers are wearing appropriate PPE (they recently required their own employees to transition from hard hats to safety helmets) there aren’t regulations that require the use of new technologies. 

Therefore, it's up to employers and safety managers to ensure they're keeping informed of the latest technologies, and how they can provide enhanced workplace safety. 

 

Wearable Technology 

Wearable technology is nothing new for consumers, but the construction industry has yet to see widespread adoption in the workplace. For those at risk of injuries throughout the day, wearable technology can sound the alarm when workers are injured, or even before an accident occurs. For example, safety vests can be equipped with sensors embedded into or clipped onto the vest. These vests can monitor workers’ physiological conditions, such as blood pressure, body temperature or pulse rate, all of which could indicate if a worker is at risk of heat stress or high blood pressure. Through a connection to smartphones or a remote computer, these sensors can send an alarm if workers’ vital signs indicate a high risk of a medical emergency. Additionally, by utilizing GPS technology, smart vests can actively monitor a worker’s location, and alert them if they enter a danger zone on a job site.

Wearable technology has extended to safety helmets as well. Sensor bands can be installed in helmets that detect workers’ health factors, such as falling asleep or fatigue. By tracking electroencephalogram (EEG) brain waves, sensor bands can identify vital signs indicating fatigue, and alert connected devices of the risk. Like smart vests, smart helmets can also deploy proximity sensors to detect if objects or others are close to the worker, giving them a better sense of their surroundings. In other words, proximity sensors can sound the alarm before a potential collision and accident occurs.

 

Addressing Rotational Motion 

Another safety helmet focus: rotational motion mitigation. First things first, rotational motion can result from oblique impacts to the head and consists of a combination of rotational forces (angular acceleration) and rotational energy (angular velocity). The transfer of this rotation to the head can result in shearing and damage to the brain’s axons, the cable transmitters of the neurons. Given the brain has shear properties similar to water or gel, it is typically more sensitive to rotational motion than linear motion, or an impact that occurs to the crown of the head. When different parts of the brain move relative to each other due to rotational motion, stretching tissues can cause concussions or other brain injuries. 

This is critical for the construction industry to understand, given that research indicates when most people make an impact with the ground or are struck by a falling object, it typically occurs at an angle. However, there are safety systems developed that are intended to help redirect rotational motion that might otherwise be transferred to the user’s head, like the Mips® safety system, which consists of a low friction layer mounted in the helmet. In the event of an impact or a fall, the low friction layer is designed to move slightly inside the helmet to help redirect forces away from the head.

               

A Logical Advancement in Head Protection 

In recent years, safety helmet mandates have extended beyond construction job sites to encompass vital sectors like mining, manufacturing, oil and gas, and electrical work across the nation, indicating a broadening commitment to worker safety in various industries. To address this critical need, PIP® launched a comprehensive line of safety helmets that integrate Mips® technology.

The Dynamic® Rocky™  industrial climbing helmet with Mips® technology was designed to address the trending head injury statistics recorded in the construction industry. Featuring a super lightweight ABS shell and an integrated 4-point chinstrap, this design ensures a comfortable and secure fit for workers to prevent the risk of the helmet dislodging, in the event of a slip, trip or fall. 

The Rocky™ features ANSI/ISEA Z89.1 Type II impact protection and meets CSA Z94.1, meeting the standards of the Canadian market. The non-vented shell provides Class E electrical protection for safe use around electrical hazards up to 20,000V, making it suitable for construction, mining, and electrical work. Compatible with a custom Dynamic® mounting bracket, the Rocky™ can be used in conjunction with any PIP® safety visor and VSeries™ cap-mounted ear muffs to provide total above-the-neck protection.

 

Building on the success of the Rocky™, the launch of the PIP® Traverse™ Industrial Climbing Helmet has revolutionized our approach to head protection. By integrating Mips® and meeting both ANSI Z89.1-2024 Type II Industrial Head Protection requirements and the European EN 12492 Mountaineering Equipment Standard, this helmet not only meets but exceeds safety standards, providing unparalleled protection against rotational forces during impacts. Traverse™ helmets are made of an ultralightweight ABS shell and an integrated hi-density inner shell foam liner that work in conjunction with the highly adjustable 4-point nylon inner suspension to provide exceptional top-of-head and lateral impact hazards.

The  PIP® Traverse™ Industrial Climbing Helmet is offered in two styles and includes a unique line of customized accessories and replacement parts, allowing it to be adapted to various working environments.

  • A vented helmet  fulfilling Class C electrical protection to shield workers against impact and falling or flying objects on construction sites, in warehouses, or in the utilities sector 
  • non-vented helmet fulfilling Class E electrical protection for those exposed to electrical hazards up to 20,000V in addition to impact and falling or flying objects on construction sites, in confined mining spaces or while performing electrical work

 

 PIP® is Leading the Charge 

By leveraging cutting-edge advancements like Mips®, PIP® reaffirms its position as a leader in providing premium safety solutions that prioritize the well-being of workers in various environments. We’re constantly striving to implement the latest technologies in our safety products. Contact us to see how our team can help you!

 

This article was originally written by Joe Brandel, Business Development Manager for NA Industrial Safety Market, Mips® and PIP® and published in ISHN’s April 2024 Issue.

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