Head Protection

A Beginner’s Guide to ANSI Z89.1

A Beginner’s Guide to ANSI Z89.1 - Defender Safety
The brain is one of the most important organs within the human body. Head injuries from falling objects or electricity often have serious effects, which can be deadly. Helmets are essential for maintaining safe and standard procedures on any job site. But how do you know what to look for in a safety helmet? The American National Standards Institute's (ANSI) regulations guarantee the safety and quality of helmets. The helmets at Defender Safety are designed to fit these limits and simultaneously provide an easy and comfortable user experience.

What is OSHA? What are their helmet requirements?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency within the United States Department of Labor. The intent of OSHA is to secure safe workplace conditions by establishing standards and providing education. OSHA regulations mandate that general industry and construction workers must wear a helmet when exposed to
  • Falling objects
  • Electrical hazards
  • Burns
  • Low-hanging objects
In addition to these standards, OSHA requires that construction organizations follow the guidelines that the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) provides. That is, OSHA gives general rules for helmets, and the ANSI Z89.1 gives precise requirements needed to comply with OSHA.

What is ANSI Z89.1?

The American National Standard for Industrial Head Protection (ANSI Z89.1-2014) describes performance and testing conditions for safety helmets. The document also sets types and classes of helmets based on possible dangers. OSHA allows helmets that follow the 2009, 2003, and 1997 editions of the ANSI Z89.1. However, if the job exposes employees to risks only mentioned in the 2014 version, older products may not comply.

What are the types and classes of helmets?

Helmet Types There are two types of helmets defined by the ANSI Z89.1-2014. The type refers to the level of impact and penetration defense.
  • Type I helmets reduce the force of an impact at the top of the head.
  • Type II helmets reduce the force of an impact at the top, front, back, and sides of the head.
ansi type 1 and type 2 Depending on the potential risks, type I and type II helmets have distinct purposes. Type I helmets guarantee protection from tools, small parts, or other objects falling from a height. Type II helmets protect from horizontal impacts and falling objects. Helmet Classes Furthermore, the ANSI defines helmets by their ability to withstand electricity. There are three classes, each with different electrical properties.
  • Class E (Electrical) helmets protect from impacts, penetration, and high voltage shocks up to 20,000 volts.
  • Class G (General) helmets are all-purpose with impact, penetration, and limited voltage protection up to 2,200 volts.
  • Class C (Conductive/Consumer) helmets provide only impact and penetration protection.
Each class of helmets provides basic blow protection but varies in the voltage they can tolerate.

What are the ANSI testing requirements?

ANSI testing requirements Type I and Type II helmets must pass performance tests to be certified. The basic tests include:
  • Flammability
  • Force Transmission
  • Apex Penetration
  • Electrical Insulation (when necessary)
The helmets must resist fire damage, reduce the force of impact in high and low temperatures, resist penetration in high and low temperatures, and withstand exposure to electricity. Helmet testing is strict and has various specifications for a passing helmet. During testing, the helmet is placed on a head form which is a metal object resembling a human head, to accurately evaluate its capabilities. The helmets must be placed in two conditions for both the force transmission and the apex penetration tests. For hot temperatures, at least 12 helmets are held at 49°C (120°F) for a minimum of two hours. For cold temperatures, at least 12 helmets are held at 18°C (0°F) for two hours. This way, the helmets can account for different work environments.
  1. Flammability
The flammability test is performed by applying a Bunsen burner flame to a test point for about five seconds. Then the helmet is inspected for visible damage or persistent fires. The helmet fails the test if a flame remains for five seconds after the burner is removed.
  1. Force Transmission
An impactor-an anvil or steel ball with a mass of 8 lbs. (3.6 kg) and a radius of 1.9 in (4.8 cm) is used for the force transmission test. The impactor is dropped from a height to hit the helmet at about 18 ft/s (5.5 m/s). The maximum force readings for each trial are recorded, and the average force is calculated. The helmets must not transmit a force greater than 4,450 N (1,000 lbf). The average maximum transmitted force must not be more than 3,780 N (850 lbf). In other words, helmets should protect against a motorcycle accelerating at 20 m/s2, which has a force of 3,600 N (809 lbf).
  1. Apex Penetration
For apex penetration, a pointed steel penetrator of about 2.2 lbs. (1 kg) with a tip radius of about 0.01 in. (0.25 mm) is used. The penetrator is dropped from a height to hit the helmet at about 23 ft/s (7 m/s). The helmets fail if the penetrator touches the test head form.
  1. Electrical Insulation
The electrical insulation test is performed on only Class G and E helmets. Any permanent accessories-chin straps or lamp brackets-remain on the sample during this test. Test samples partially submerged in water are subjected to voltage. Class G helmets are subjected to 2,200 volts for one minute, and current leakage must not exceed 3 milliamperes. Class E helmets are subjected to 20,000 volts for three minutes, and leakage cannot be more than 9 milliamperes. Then the helmet is assessed for burn-through by increasing the voltage to 30,000 volts at a rate of 1,000 volts per second, followed by an immediate decrease to zero. There should be no sign of burn-through on the helmet to pass the test.

What are the ANSI tests for Type II helmets?

Since Type II helmets offer protection to all sides of the head, additional testing is required. The tests include:
  • Impact Energy Attenuation
  • Off-Center Penetration
  • Chin Strap Retention
Each of these tests is performed on hot, cold, and wet helmets to further account for different work environments. The wet samples are submerged in fresh tap water maintained at 23°C (73.4°F) for two hours. The hot and cold samples are kept in the same conditions as mentioned previously.
  1. Impact Energy Attenuation
This test measures energy absorption from lateral impacts or blows to the sides of the helmet. The helmet is dropped from a height that hits an anvil at a speed of 11.5 ft/s (3.5 m/s). The maximum value for gravity (g) and impact speed is recorded for each sample. The helmet fails the test if the maximum acceleration surpasses 150g.
  1. Off-Center Penetration
This test determines resistance to penetration at the front, back, and sides. The same pointed penetrator is dropped from a height that hits the helmet at 16.4 ft/s (5 m/s). The test samples are subjected to two impacts, each at a different location on the helmet. Between hits, the helmets are reconditioned for 15 minutes. The helmet fails if the penetrator touches the test head form.
  1. Chin Strap Retention
This final test assesses the chin strap's ability to keep the helmet on a head form. A 22.2 lbs. (10 kg) mass is attached to the helmet's chin strap. The helmet and the object are dropped from a height of about 4 in. (10 cm) above ground. Residual elongation, the measure of how much the plastic stretches, is recorded between 15 and 30 seconds after impact. The chin strap must remain connected to the helmet, and residual elongation must not exceed 1 in. (25 mm).

What are the takeaways?

Safety helmets and headgear are essential to promote a safe work environment on any construction site. Helmets must have the proper credentials to protect workers from potential brain damage. The ANSI Z89.1, and OSHA, approved helmets guarantee protection through tests and provisions that simulate workplace conditions. Specified classes, types, and optional tests allow for more specialized helmets that fit different scenarios. Comfort and ease of use are also crucial factors for a helmet. The Defender Safety H1 helmet has an adjustable chin strap and suspension system to securely fit most head sizes. The Defender Safety helmets are ANSI approved and provide protection in a wide variety of workplace situations.

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