Hard Hats……. For Everyone?


How many times have you seen someone wearing a hardhat and had no clue why they were wearing a hard hat? How many times have you had no clue why you were wearing a hard hat? If the answer to that last question was “everyday” then it looks like this article may be for you.

So why do employees have to wear hard hats? They wear them for insurance and safety purposes. Sounds pretty reasonable, right? Yes, but is it reasonable for every single working person who does not sit at a desk to wear one? Construction workers have always worn hard hats, but the reason I’m writing this article is because I’ve noticed an increasing number of unnecessary hard hats lately. Everyone from landscapers to garbage men are sporting hard hats these days. I haven’t seen my mailman wearing one yet… what reckless behavior!! Anyway, this article isn’t about the people who actually need to wear hard hats. It’s about the ones who don’t need to but are forced to anyways.

One my favorites is the “anyone on site must wear a hard hat” situation. Last year my construction management class toured a building, and we all had to wear hard hats. The building was 95% done with not a single piece of heavy machinery on site but all 25 of us were made to wear them anyway.

One of my other favorite hard hat situations is the “hard hats in a factory in case the roof falls” situation. Another funny one is when Home Depot employees wear hard hats and safety vests while they stock shelves in a aisle temporarily closed off to the public. Is this really about safety or just the appearance of safety?

I think being safe is smart, but I sometimes think modern society is becoming too obsessed with safety. Sometimes I think safety gets in the way of common sense. How long will it be until I have to put on hi-vis gear just to legally leave my house? How long will it be before I have to put on a hard hat and safety glasses before I can shop at the local grocery store? Alright these examples are a little extreme but you get the point. I feel like in today’s society we will do anything that sounds safer no matter what the cost or social implication.

I don’t have anything against safety. Hard hats are a good idea for many professions. Fast food chains give their employees hats because the hats complete their uniforms and keep hair out of the food. Construction companies give their employees hard hats because porous materials aren’t waterproof and don’t prevent head trauma. What I was trying to get at through this article was that hard hats are necessary for some, but that doesn’t mean everyone should be required to wear them.

We have to actually think with our heads and not just protect them.

Photo Courtesy of: Brecht Bug