How to Read a Safety Helmet Expiry Date | 7240


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How to Read a Safety Helmet Expiry Date

Safety helmets don’t actually come stamped with an expiration date, but they do have a date of manufacture stamp that you can use to calculate the maximum lifespan. The stamp is as easy to read as a clock face, but it’s up to you to figure out when the helmet should be replaced. While the expiration date is important, it’s more vital that you check your helmet frequently and replace it as soon as it shows any signs of wear or damage.

Check the inside of the helmet for a clock-like symbol. Look for a small circular symbol that’s similar to an analog clock face, with numbers 1 through 12 placed in order around the perimeter. Instead of an hour hand and minute hand, this “clock face” should have a single arrow pointing at one of the perimeter numbers.[1]

  • The symbol isn’t a sticker, but rather a raised stamp created from the helmet’s molded plastic material.
  • This date of manufacture symbol is common in many molded plastic products.

Determine where the arrow is pointing for the month of manufacture. The numbers going around the perimeter symbol represent the months of the year—January is 1, February is 2, and so on up to December as 12. The tip of the arrow in the symbol points to the number that corresponds to the month of manufacture.[2]

  • For example, if the arrow is pointing at 5, the helmet was produced in May; if it’s pointing at 10, the helmet was made in October.

Look for the year of manufacture in the clock face’s center. In the middle of the clock face symbol, on either side of the arrow, you’ll see a 2-digit number ranging from 00 to 99. These represent the last 2 digits of the year of manufacture.[3]

  • For example, 18 represents 2018, meaning the helmet was manufactured in that year.
  • So, if the arrow is pointing at 10 and there’s an 18 in the center, the helmet was produced in October 2018.

Check for an alternate symbol if you don’t see the clock face. Depending on government regulations and/or manufacturer preferences, some safety helmets may use a different date of manufacture symbol. While the clock face symbol is by far the most common, you might instead, for example, see a square broken up into 4 smaller squares with a 2-digit number in its center. The number represents the year of manufacture, while the quadrant squares represent 3-month periods of the year.[4]

  • The top left quadrant represents January to March; the top right, April to June; the bottom right, July to September; and the bottom left, October to December.
  • Check each quadrant for a single raised dot in its center. If you see a dot in only the upper left quadrant, the helmet was made between January and March. If you see dots in both upper quadrants, the helmet was made between April and June, and so on.

Knowing When to Replace Your Helmet

Get rid of your helmet immediately if it sustains an impact. When worn and maintained properly, safety helmets do a great job of protecting your head from a single impact. But they’re only made to work against that single impact. After that, and even if you can’t see any damage, the helmet should be discarded and replaced.[5]

  • You might be asking what constitutes an “impact.” Put it this way—if you would have sustained a mild (or worse) head injury without the helmet, replace it.

Inspect the helmet daily and replace it if you find damage. Safety helmets are tough and durable, but they’re not indestructible. Look closely at the start of each workday for any cracks, nicks, chips, dents, or other signs of damage. As soon as your spot any damage, no matter how minor, replace the helmet.[6]

  • Check the adjustable headband and other interior components as well. These parts can sometimes be swapped out without replacing the entire helmet, but it’s important to use manufacturer-approved replacement parts that match the old ones exactly.

Check the maker’s maximum service life recommendation. Under ideal working conditions, the maximum service life for a safety helmet ranges from 2 to 5 years. In most cases, it’s up to the helmet manufacturer to set this max range for their product, so check the product guide or the manufacturer’s website to get the max life number for a particular helmet model.[7]

  • In some cases, government regulations or company policies may set a shorter max service life number for your safety helmet. Always use the smallest number (the least number of years) from among the manufacturer, government, and/or business requirements.

Calculate service life from the date of issue or date of manufacture. Technically speaking, the “service life” of a helmet begins on the date of issue—the date when you start actually using it. However, if you haven’t clearly recorded the date of issue—either in the helmet or in a safety file—use the date of manufacture as the starting point for the service life.[8]

  • Some helmet manufacturers provide a sticker that you can affix to the inside of the helmet after writing your name and the date of issue on it. Use a durable permanent marker to write this info and refresh it as needed when the writing starts to fade.


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