OSHA requires most construction workers to wear hard hats, but allows Amish construction workers to opt out of the requirement. According to a write-up in the Morning Call, an Allentown, Pa. news resource deep in the heart of Amish country, the hard-hat exemption for Amish construction workers is being questioned by Pennsylvania congressman Glenn Thompson. Thompson is fielding complaints from a constituent who owns a quarry, Russell Stone Products in Grampian, Pa., where Amish workers are required to wear hard hats under rules from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), a separate agency from OSHA. Thompson is wondering why construction workers are exempt but mine workers are not. The quarry owner framed the question this way: "What's the difference if a piece of steel falls on your head versus a stone in our quarry?"

Seems both the quarry owner and the congressman should be asking not why, but can, Amish workers in certain mining conditions be granted a similar exemption as construction workers have under OSHA rules.

Amish religious faith requires men to wear a wide-brimmed hats, and it's conceivable to us at JLC that a wide-brimmed hat will achieve a lot of what a hard-hat does - keep a worker from slamming a head into unmovable objects on the jobsite. It's debatable whether any hard hat will really do much to save a worker from injury from a falling piece of steel or a falling piece of stone. Both are likely to crush the worker. But that doesn't mean some rational exceptions can't be made. The point of the regulation should be about taking a rational approach to safety, not simply ignoring it.

Wearing the black felt or straw hats favored by Amish men, reports the Morning Call, is not a style choice but a religious obligation, so no worries about head gear being an arbitrary choice.  Read more.