Works for You

(Editor's Note: Protection Update welcomes contributions from readers for our regular “Safety Equipment Works for You” feature. Email examples of where PPE has saved workers' lives or prevented injuries to Editor Joe Walker, [email protected], or mail them to the Editor, Protection Update, International Safety Equipment Association, 1901 N. Moore Street, Suite 808, Arlington, VA 22209. Photos are welcome.)

Hard Hat Saves Dam Worker's Life

Hard hats are not necessarily designed to absorb a blow to the front of the head during a fall. But for one power-plant mechanic who fell more than 20 feet from an unprotected ledge at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers powerhouse in Dardanelle, Ark., the helmet probably saved his life.

Richard Duck was part of a team trying to find a leaky pipe in a turbine pit when he bumped his hard-hat-protected head against an overhead obstruction, according to the All About Head Protection website ( The blow caused him to lose his balance. Duck fell off the ledge and landed 20 feet below. During the fall, his hard hat stayed on long enough to protect his head when it struck something on the way down.

He received a gash on the forehead, and the helmet shattered. “The hard hat saved his life,” said an industrial hygienist with the Little Rock District Corps safety office. “The hard hat, held on momentarily by earmuffs, took the force of the blow before it shattered.” The Little Rock District took immediate steps to abate the lack of fall protection that resulted in the accident in the first place.

Another Tale of a Worker Who Used His Head and Lived

Keith was opening a job box when he was struck on the head by a 30-foot, wide-body tape measure that fell from 60 feet above. He avoided a head injury during this accident by wearing a hardhat, Mine Safety Appliances Co. (MSA) reported. Keith received a Gold Helmet Award from MSA (see related article in this issue of Protection Update) for using his head for more than a hat rack.

Thermal Imagers Help in Boy Scout's Rescue

Thermal imaging cameras were among several tools that helped rescuers find a Boy Scout lost in a rugged section of North Carolina's Blue Ridge Parkway National Park in March 2007. Twelve-year-old Michael Auberry had been camping with six other boys and three parents when he wandered away from their campsite.

Hundreds of rescuers fanned out across the mountain terrain looking for him, Computer World reported. They were equipped with search dogs and GPS devices, along with thermal imagers, which can locate people by sensing their body heat and often are used by firefighters to find victims inside smoky buildings. The devices can “see” through leafy cover and other barriers. Auberry was found alive and in good condition on the third day of the search.

Life-saving Eagle Imager 160 Thermal Imaging Cameras by Scott Health & Safety, 800-247-7257 or

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