Bump Caps vs Hard Hats: The Ultimate GuideLouise Thomas
Your guide to choosing the right head protection for you and your employees.
Protecting your head at work is one of the most important and essential steps you can take when it comes to wearing PPE. But when it comes to deciding between wearing bump caps vs hard hats, there’s a lot to take into consideration to ensure you get it right. Did you know that over 1,000 workers die every year from injuries sustained at work? You just can’t afford to get it wrong when it comes to PPE.
Essentially, bump caps are designed to protect you from small knocks against stationary objects that you may be at risk to in the workplace. Whereas a hard hat is designed to withstand much great impact, for instance; protecting you against falling objects or debris.
The difference in the protection that each offers is largely down to the way they are designed, so let’s take a look at exactly what the difference is between the two, and when you should be wearing a bump cap or hard hat.
A bump cap is a less invasive, lightweight cap with an inbuilt impact-resistant padded plastic shell. Due to their secure, close-fitting design they also stay on the wearers head without the need for a chin strap – ideal for any jobs where the wearer is not always in a vertical position.
Bump caps are comfortable to wear and are designed to look like a baseball cap. They offer lightweight protection against the wearer banging their head on potential obstructions.
When should I wear a bump cap?
Since bump caps are designed to literally protect you from bumps, they should be worn by anyone working in an environment where this may be a risk factor. This includes anywhere you might be working with insufficient headspace or where you might encounter low-hanging obstructions.
However, bump caps should not be worn in environments where there is a high risk of falling objects/debris which could prove dangerous – in this case, a hard hat would be essential.
What does a bump cap protect against?
A bump cap will keep you safe from any scratches or lacerations from sharp edges or objects you may come into contact with. It’ll also protect you from hitting and banging your head on any obstructions. It’s most likely to protect you from cuts, bumps and mild concussion.
Who should wear one?
Roles where you might find a bump cap helpful include:
- Installation engineers
- Baggage handlers
- Airline workers
- Manufacturing/assembly line
- Food processing
What should I look out for when buying a bump cap?
There is a European standard for bump caps which you can look out for when buying yours this is EN 812.
We would also recommend checking whether the bump cap has venting to avoid overheating, that it has padded foam for comfort and of course that it is impact and puncture resistant.
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Hard hats are the ultimate form of protection against high impact bangs, knocks or hits to the head. They’re cleverly designed to allow the force of any impact to be spread across the head without transmitting it to the wearers skull. Typically made from rigid plastic with a metal shell, they have a suspension system inside which creates space between the hard hat and the wearers head.
When should I wear a hard hat?
According to the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations 1992, hard hats must be worn when there is a risk of head injury and they must be provided by employers.
What does a hard hat protect against?
A hard hat will protect you from a wide range of potential hazards including, but not limited to, falling objects and debris, swinging objects, and struck-by hazards. Ultimately, it can save you from serious life-changing injuries and even brain damage.
Who should wear one?
If you need to wear a hard hat at work, it should be made very apparent to you as soon as you’re in the workplace. But typically, these are the sort of roles where wearing a hard hat is mandatory:
- Any construction related roles
- Oil and gas engineers
- Road works maintenance
- Tree felling or surgeon
- Any roles working at a great height
What should I look for when buying a hard hat?
To begin with, we recommend looking for hard hats manufactured to the BS EN 397 regulations, which assures that the products have been rigorously tested. It is actually a legal requirement that hard hats worn on UK construction sites comply to this standard.
Whilst yellow is the most popular colour choice for hard hats, the various different coloured hard hats have become synonymous with different roles around the site, this is the most common colour code adapted by construction sites:
- Black – Supervisors
- White – Site Manager
- Orange – Signaller
- Blue – Visitors
- Yellow – Various roles
However, different industries have their own associations. For example, the rail industry uses orange coloured hard hats.
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We hope you found our guide helpful in determining which form of PPE would be most suitable for you and your employees. For any workplace, it is imperative to first conduct a detailed risk assessment to determine which product should be worn and when.
As a general rule, bump caps are not suitable protection for a construction site, where a hard hat is mandatory. However, bump caps can be a great tool to protect your head against everyday injuries.
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