While OSHA does allow hard hat stickers, that guidance comes with several important conditions.
In this article, we will examine whether hard hat stickers are allowed in the workplace, what the limitations are, and what some alternatives are.
Is it Legal to Use Hard Hat Stickers?
Yes. OSHA will allow the placement of stickers on hard hats when the manufacturer authorizes the alteration. And while OSHA does technically allow for hard hats stickers, that allowance comes with several important conditions:
Stickers are allowed on hard hats, as long as they do not interfere with the hard hat's ability to protect the wearer from impact and penetration hazards. In rare instances, it is possible for the adhesive on a sticker to react with the plastic on the hard hat and compromise the integrity of the shell.
Stickers or any other adornments applied to hard hats should not use conductive materials and should not contain any metal parts that could become a conductive path.
Stickers should not cover the entire surface of the hard hat. Stickers can potentially conceal damage that would be otherwise easily identifiable during a visual inspection.
Hard hat stickers should not be placed over any cracks, dents or other defects that could reduce a hard hat's effectiveness.
Importantly, hard hats should never be painted. Paint can damage a hard hat’s shell, thereby reducing the degree of protection.
The bottom line is that OSHA requires that all hard hats meet specific standards, and any modifications to the hard hat, including the addition of stickers, should not compromise the hard hat's ability to meet OSHA standards. Employers should review the manufacturer's instructions and recommendations before allowing employees to decorate their hard hats with stickers.
Related: Learn more about full-brim hard hats and how they can keep you safe in the workplace.
Reasons Some Workplaces Use Hard Hat Stickers
The most common reasons employees give for using hard hat stickers are for decoration and personalization – but employees are not the only ones who like to apply stickers to hard hats. There are sometimes very pragmatic reasons for management to employ the use of hard hat stickers.
Supervisors may want to use labels or stickers to identify the names/roles of the workers.
On jobsites that employ temporary workers and/or subcontractors, it may be difficult to know every worker's name and role.
Many large projects employ workers from several different companies on site, so company logos can be affixed to hard hats to help identify which company the workers are from.
A supervisor may also use hard hat stickers to display a worker’s training or qualifications. This allows for quick identification of who on the site is a first responder/EMT or which employees are trained in confined space entry, forklift operation, traffic control, etc.
A safer alternative to hard hat stickers is purchasing custom hard hats. Custom hard hats are available in a wide variety of colors and styles. They can be custom printed to include your logo, name, title, certifications or almost anything else you need.
Employers Are Responsible for Hard Hat Inspections
It's important to note that the employer is responsible for ensuring that a hard hat is in "reliable" condition, which is why an inspection before each use is required. To ensure hard hats are in "reliable" condition, always inspect them for cracks, dents, impact, penetration, rough treatment, or any type of damage or wear that will reduce a hard hat's level of protection.
These visual inspections are done not only to maintain workers safety, but also to comply with OSHA regulations.
Hard Hat Stickers Conclusion
Even though there are seemingly valid reasons to place stickers on your hard hat, it’s important to understand that it’s not advisable if these hard hat stickers could potentially compromise worker safety. At the end of the day, the job of a hard hat is to protect your head, so your #1 priority should be to ensure that the level of head protection is maintained, whether you choose to allow hard hat stickers in your workplace or not.
When in doubt, just remember, custom hard hats are a great alternative to hard hat stickers. They are available in a wide variety of colors and styles. They can be custom printed to include your logo, name, title, certifications or almost anything else you need.
Feel free to contact our Safety Support Team to help you select the best hard hats for your particular workplace.