The company claims that it was the first general contractor in the United States to implement the company-wide adoption of safety helmets with chin straps for all employees. The traditional hard hat, a 60-year staple in the industry, provides protection from falling objects. But if a person falls, the standard hard had falls off.
“Since adopting the helmet, we’ve already seen positive results from a couple of incidents where head injuries have been avoided because of the helmet,” said division safety manager Seth Randall, who has been a leader in the initiative.
In 2016, there were nearly 400 fall fatalities in the construction industry. That year, the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) found that 25% of all construction fatalities result from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), most of which occurred from a fall.
Clark’s safety team began to search for ways to improve the protective gear used by its employees. After more than a year of testing and research and development, Clark determined that safety helmets with chin straps were a prudent solution to preventing TBIs as the result of a fall. In 2017, Clark made the decision to adopt the helmets and all 3,000+ employees wear them.
In the year since its adoption, the helmet has already made a big impact in preventing TBIs, said the company. “The industry didn’t have much consensus on head protection during a fall, so we wanted to find a better solution,” said Randall. “We saw that there was a need, and an opportunity to change for the better.”
As just one example, in February 2018, Marvin Taylor was cleaning stairs on a site when a guardrail on a stair mid-landing gave out, and he fell seven feet onto a concrete slab below. “At the hospital, the doctor confirmed that I didn’t have a concussion or anything,” said Taylor. “I didn’t even realize that I had hit my head. Then I was shown the helmet I was wearing. There was a three-inch crack in the helmet. My old hard hat… it would have fallen off my head. That would have been a three-inch crack in my skull. It could have been so much worse.” Shortly after the incident, he was able to return to work on site.
Vice president of safety Kris Manning said “We recognize that PPE [personal protective equipment] should be the last line of worker safety, but as responsible leaders within the industry we truly believe the adoption of these helmets with chin straps is the right thing to do. Internal and third-party research supports enhanced worker protection, and the most powerful confirmation for me is speaking to a worker who fell and was able to walk away to spend time with his family again.”