Hard Hats

Head protection is a no-brainer

OSHA demands that all workers wear head protection whenever there is any danger of head injury from falling or thrown objects, or from contact with fixed objects. Historically, the hard hat has been the answer to this threat of injury, and it continues to be the choice of workers from the construction industry to the forestry business. However, in order to function well, you must choose the right kind of hard hat for the job. From color to design to safety rating, you will encounter plenty of hard hat styles –find out what kind of hard hat you need and what to look for in any safety helmet.

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Types of Hard Hats

To find an appropriate safety hard hat for your industry, consult the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) listings. An ANSI Type I hard hat will focus on top protection, while ANSI Type II hard hats are designed to withstand impact from any side as well as from above, and they contain a protective foam inner liner. Both types are meant to prevent impact and penetration, but the nature and risk of the task will determine the right level of protection.

In addition to impact resistance, hard hats are categorized based on the way they conduct electricity. The Class C hard hat is conductive, meaning that it will not provide any electrical protection. One step up from this is the Class G hard hat, which can protect against 2,200 volts and is ideal for general construction. The Class E hard hat is designed to protect the wearer from electrical injury as well as heavy impact – it can withstand up to 20,000 volts.

Find Effective Head Protection

When shopping for a hard hat, consider some important features in addition to type and class. A safety helmet should be not only resistant to shock and penetration, but also waterproof and heat resistant in case of flood or fire. Every hard hat should come with a shock-absorbing lining, known as suspension, which keeps the shell of the hat at least one inch away from the head. Finally, consider your working conditions: Will you often have the sun's glare in your eyes? Do you anticipate rainy conditions? What about other safety accessories that you may need to combine with the hat? Different hard hats are constructed with different elements in mind, such as ridges and bills to block sun and drain rain.

Some hard hats can be modified with extra protection, including face masks or hearing protection. And if you would like an imprinted hard hat that displays your company logo or another design, you will likely need to order a minimum amount to avoid extra fees. Remember that any metallic addition to a Class E hard hat will automatically reduce it to a Class C helmet, so consider customizations carefully.

Your hard hat will only provide proper protection if it is well-maintained, so you should check for cracks and gouges regularly. Every hat will bring instructions and manufacturer guidelines as well, so follow these to keep your head protected. If your hard hat is struck by a falling or heavy object, replace it right away, whether or not it shows any signs of damage.