The City of Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba are butting heads at the Manitoba Labour Board over the issue of hard hats at construction sites.

The city has been cautioned four times in the past 18 months over municipal work crews that were not wearing the protective headgear.

The city is currently appealing two of those incidents at a hearing at the Manitoba Labour Board. Michael Jack, a lawyer representing the city, says the city has had its own hard-hat policy for decades, which requires workers to wear the hats only in certain situations.

"The city has tried to identify where there is a risk of overhead impact or lateral impact to the employee," he said. "Certainly, where there is anything taking place overhead, where any work is taking place at shoulder height or above — those would be the types of situations."

But the province argues that wearing hard hats is the law and all employers — including the city — must follow the rules.

"Hard hats overwhelmingly have been proven to prevent injury, and, as you can imagine, the types of injuries you can receive without protecting the head in the worst case could result in a fatality to a worker or a skull fracture, concussion, bumps, scrapes, etc., so they are very important," said Don Hurst, deputy minister for Workplace Safety and Health.

Provincial regulations require protective headwear at all times on construction project sites, including situations involving construction, demolition, or work on structures, roads, pipelines, sewage systems or electrical lines; trench and excavation work; and installation, removal or work on equipment or machinery. The hearing has wrapped up two days of testimony and will resume in the next few months.