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How to Choose the Right Hard Hat

What does a hard hat do to actually protect you?

Hard hats were one of the first safety items to be considered essential to a construction worker’s safety. An early version was a cloth cap sporting a varnished leather brim worn by gold and copper miners. Nothing on a jobsite works harder to protect crew members than the modern-day hard hat.

Are there performance requirements that hard hats must meet?

OSHA regulations require the use of American National Standards Institute (ANSI) compliant head protection (ANSI Z89.1-2014).

There are two types of protection from blows:


  • Type I: Protects against blows to the top of the head

  • Type II: Protects against blows to the top and side of the head

There are three classes of head protection from electricity:


  • Class E (electrical) Is tested to withstand 20,000 volts

  • Class G (general) Is tested to withstand 2,200 volts

  • Class C (conductive) Does not provide any protection from electricity
Gray Hard Hat

How does a hard hat fit on your head?

The best hard hats use a suspended, anchored head strap assembly to connect the outside protective shell to the wearer’s head.

There are three types of suspension:


  1. Ratchet Suspension adjusts by turning a knob at the rear of the suspension.

  2. Pinlock Suspension adjusts by taking hat off and inserting a pin into its corresponding hole.

  3. One-Touch Suspension adjusts by squeezing and separating the suspension to achieve the best fit.


What are the dos and don’ts of using a hard hat suspension?

Always make sure that the suspension fits securely into all slots. Suspensions aren’t designed to be interchangeable, so don’t use one manufacturer’s suspension in another manufacturer’s hard hat. Inspect your suspension frequently and it when an impact occurs.

When should you replace a hard hat?

Inspect your hard hat frequently and replace it if it shows cracks, chips, holes, dents, discoloration or brittleness. After an impact, you’ll want to look closely at the hat and suspension moorings. The rule is – if in doubt, throw it out. To replace your hard hat, shop professional construction hard hats here.
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