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In many cultures covering the head is a sign of respect, but it’s also a prudent practice to protect the brain, skull, and scalp on the battlefield and on the job. When it comes to head protection, the critical items are the hard hat and the helmet. The hard hat is a relatively new invention compared to the helmet, which has been protecting human heads since at least 900 BC when bludgeons, sword blows, and arrow strikes were the chief hazards.

The variety of assaults to the head has evolved over the millennia thanks to the nature of our pursuits, but the nature of the injury has not. Common head injuries include concussions, skull fractures, and scalp wounds. Oregon OSHA requirements for head protection should come as no surprise: “When employees are working in areas where head injuries from falling or flying objects are possible, then appropriate head protection is required.” Employees who have long hair and are exposed to power-driven machinery or to sources of ignition must also cover their hair.

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