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Mon May 17 2021

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Highway contractor pioneers hi-tech hard hat

16 Mar 17 Workers at highway maintenance contractor A-one+ are being issued with a new type of hard hat that exploits military and automotive technology.

The modified Manta SAR helmet
The modified Manta SAR helmet

A-one+ was dissatisfied with the level of protection offered by existing hard hats on the market so set about working with suppliers on improvements.

The result is a modified Manta helmet, which is fitted with a polycarbonate side plate, the material used to make car bumpers, to provide protection to the side of the head and the ears. It is the first time that the material has been used in safety helmets in Europe.

Working with Eurox (part of the Future Garments Manufacturing Group), the Manta SAR helmet has been fitted with bespoke modifications that provide additional face and head protection, no matter what task is being carried out.

Other modifications for A-one+ include:

  • enclosing the tightening mechanism within the helmet structure to ensure it can’t injure to the wearer on impact
  • resizing the tightening mechanism to make it easier for larger fingers to adjust
  • using photo-luminescent compound moulded into vent covers that absorb UV light during the day and glow in the dark at night
  • fitting the helmet with built in drop down visor to provide extra face and neck protection
  • adding strips of marine safety equipment standard retro-reflective tape to the sides, top and rear that takes light source and reflects back at the same level it absorbs light.

The helmet has a high density outer shell that absorbs energy without transferring it to the wearer, linked to an expanded polystyrene liner for additional protection. The high performance and lateral rigidity means it is suitable and tested to the mountaineering and search and rescue marine standards.

Rigorous testing has seen the helmet impacted from all angles at 1,000 joules – standard highways industry helmets are tested only on the crown up to 50 joules.

The helmet is lightweight and can be fitted with accessories such as visors and hearing protectors. It is fastened with a four harness strap that prevents it falling off and ensuring the wearer is protected from impact from all angles.

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A-one+ began the search for better head protection for its staff after analysing records of slips, trips and falls on the network and in depots. The results showed that traditional helmets left the sides and the back of the head vulnerable in case of impact, especially as they could fall off too easily. 

A-one+ challenged suppliers to provide helmets that would stay secure in case of a slip, trip or fall as well as meeting the wide variety of tasks carried out on the highways network.

Staff from A-one+ – a joint venture between CH2M, Colas and Costain that works for Highways England – trialled dozens of models to find the perfect fit.

A-one+ managing director Clive Leadbetter said: “This helmet is an industry game-changer. Acting on slips and trips that resulted in head injuries we quickly realised that although protective equipment is always the last resort, standard construction hats were not affording the level of protection that we need in the highway maintenance sector.  Our biggest risks are the potential for harm working within close proximity to live traffic and on hard surfaces.

“We have seen huge leaps forward in head protection for the leisure industry but nothing in reality has moved within the construction engineering environment. This helmet gives our people enhanced protection and is a more secure and stable fit.  The four harness fastening is vital to make sure that the helmet stays in place during impact and the extra protection we have added provides much improved all round-cover for the wearer. We will always strive towards mitigating the risks of any level of harm however we should always ensure we are giving our road workers the best protection we can. “

Eurox sales director Steve Pultney said: “Eurox is proud to have been part of this collaboration utilising the very latest state of the art technology. The support and feedback from all levels within A-one+ allowed us to exceed the boundaries of performance and comfort in the development of this new industrial helmet.”

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