Hardhats are a very important safety device!
They look like a type of helmet, and are predominantly worn in working environments, such as factories and construction sites, wherever there is danger of falling objects, head impacts, heavy debris, or electric shock.
The inside of the helmet has a flexible suspension system that distributes the weight evenly across your head.
There is a 30mm space between the top of the helmet and your head, so that if something does fall on you, then your head is protected from the impact.
Some safety helmets have a reinforced ridge down the middle for extra strength.
A hardhat is designed to protect your head from injury. This means they have to be made of extremely durable materials.
Originally, these hats were made of metal; then manufacturers used fiberglass; but now most safety helmets are made of super-tough plastic. This does not mean they are unbreakable, but they can stand up to a lot of abuse.
As with all clothing, some people must have safety equipment that looks good as well as performs well. You can get contemporary styled hats with rolled edges. These act like rain gutters and channel water to the front. It then drains off the bill, instead of running down the back of your neck.
Another style looks like a cowboy hat. However, not all places allow you to wear this type while working.
Many organizations issue hats with your own name on the front or back, or with the company logo. Helmets are often fitted with:
A hardhat also gives you a distinctive presence. A safety vest might not be noticed, especially in peripheral vision. But, when you wear a safety helmet, you are more likely to been seen.
Performance standards for safety headwear were revised in 1997. It is not mandatory to follow these standards, but most manufacturers comply willingly. These include:
ANSI Type I / CSA Type 1 – The hat meets tight vertical impact and puncture requirements.
ANSI Type II / CSA Type 2 – The hat meets impact and puncture requirements from the top and the sides and has an inner liner made of expanded polystyrene.
A Class E safety helmet is usually worn by electricians. This type has been tested to insulate against up to 20,000 volts of electricity.
ANSI also has strict regulations for combustibility or flammability of hardhats.
Many times you do not need the protection of a heavy duty helmet. In these cases you can wear a bump cap.
This is a lightweight type of hat with a simple suspension or light padding, instead of a suspension system, and with only a chin strap.
You would wear this type when there is a chance of scraping or bumping your head on equipment or on low structures. This type is not strong enough to protect you from large impacts, such as falling tools.
Before hardhats were invented, workers in the ship building industry would smear the top of their hats with tar, and let them cure in the sun. Dock workers did this all the time, as well to protect their heads from objects falling from ship decks.
There was also the danger of items occasionally falling from sea birds. These birds often pick up just about anything, then drop it when they realize the object is inedible.
Safety helmets are usually quite uncomfortable, even though manufacturers try to make them as decent to wear as possible. Your head will sweat more, making it itchy.
If you don’t have one that fits properly, it will slide around and maybe even fall off. This can be quite annoying when you are working, as well as unsafe. Make sure you have a safety helmet that fits properly.
As to the comfort, a little discomfort is much better than the alternative. A head injury can leave you with brain damage, or worse.
You have to wear your hardhat whenever you in an area where they are mandatory. These areas are clearly indicated. If you are caught without one, in some cases you may get off with just a warning, but in most cases you will lose your job if you do not wear the proper safety equipment.
Safety helmets are designed for your personal protection, so make sure to wear yours at all times.