Safety – OSHA Standards

Where does OSHA fit in?

Product standards determine performance requirements, and certification indicates conformity to standards. How those products are installed and used in the workplace falls under OSHA.

OSHA standards and regulations may mandate the use of a product that meets a standard, but not specify how that product is certified. For example, the OSHA PPE standards require that hard hats, safety glasses and safety footwear meet specific ANSI standards; the OSHA respirator standard requires that products be NIOSH approved. OSHA officials often participate in the development of those standards, and ANSI and OSHA work in close cooperation.

OSHA does not certify or approve any products. Any claim that a product is “OSHA approved” is misleading. Occupational Safety and Health Standards for General Industry (29 CFR PART 1910) 1910.135(a) General requirements. 1910.135(a) (1) The employer shall ensure that each affected employee wears a protective helmet when working in areas where there is a potential for injury to the head from falling objects. 1910.135(a) (2) The employer shall ensure that a protective helmet designed to reduce electrical shock hazard is worn by each such affected employee when near exposed electrical conductors which could contact the head. 1910.135(b) Criteria for protective helmets. 1910.135(b) (1) Protective helmets purchased after July 5, 1994 shall comply with ANSI Z89.1-1986, “American National Standard for Personnel Protection-Protective Head wear for Industrial Workers-Requirements,” which is incorporated by reference as specified in Sec. 1910.6, or shall be demonstrated to be equally effective. 1910.135(b) (2) Protective helmets purchased before July 5, 1994 shall comply with the ANSI standard “American National Standard Safety Requirements for Industrial Head Protection,” ANSI Z89.1-1969, which is incorporated by reference as specified in Sec. 1910.6, or shall be demonstrated by the employer to be equally effective. [59 FR 16362, April 6, 1994; 61 FR 9227, March 7, 1996; 61 FR 19547, May 1, 1996] American National Standard for Industrial Head Protection This is the fifth revision of the standard that provides performance and testing requirements for industrial helmets, commonly known as hard hats. It is a revision of ANSI Z89.1-1997, which established the types and classes of protective helmets, depending on the type of hazard encountered. The 1997 version included specifications for helmets designed to offer protection from lateral impact, or top-only impact, giving employers and users the flexibility to specify the helmet that best meets the needs of their specific workplace.

Industrial head protective helmets meeting the requirements of the 2003 standard are classified as Type I for top protection or Type II for lateral impact protection. Both types are tested for impact attenuation and penetration resistance. Type II helmet performance requirements include criteria for impact energy attenuation from impacts from the front, back and sides as well as the top; off-center penetration resistance, and chin strap retention.

The three classes indicate the helmets electrical insulation rating, unchanged from 1997:

  • Class E (electrical) are tested to withstand 20,000 volts;
  • Class G (general) helmets are tested at 2200 volts; and
  • Class C (conductive) provide no electrical protection.