When shopping for PPE, there is a veritable alphabet soup of safety standards and compliance ratings. One such code you might see on head protection products is EN 812. The fact that a safety hat meets the EN 812 standard sounds nice, but what exactly does that mean?
EN 812 Testing
EN 812 is a European Standard (it’s “EN” instead of “ES” because it’s been translated from French) for the protection provided by bump caps. Bump caps are designed primarily to protect workers from bumping their heads on objects, as opposed to protecting you from items dropped from directly overhead. Because the hazards are different, the testing standards are different.
Bump caps are tested for EN 812 compliance by dropping metal weights onto the hat from different angles and heights. To measure impact protection (or shock absorption), a flat striker weighing 5 kilograms (about 11 pounds) is dropped from a height of 250 millimeters (about 10 inches). The weight is dropped with the bump cap tilted at different angles, to simulate a worker hitting something with the front or back of their head (such as might happen if you failed to duck and walked into a low-hanging beam). The amount of force that is transmitted through the cap to the worker’s head is measured, and has to be less than 12 joules to pass the test.
To measure penetration protection, a sharp pointed cone weighing 0.5 kilograms (about 1.1 pounds) is dropped from a height of 500 millimeters (about 20 inches). The hat passes this test if it prevents the cone from puncturing the bump cap.
Hats sometimes become weaker due to age, temperature differences, or other factors, so the tests are repeated using bump caps that have been heated, cooled, soaked in water, and aged with UV rays. A hat has to pass the test in all conditions to be certified as EN 812.